SKOWHEGAN — A former clerk at the district attorney’s office charged with embezzling an estimated $85,000 from the office made a brief appearance in court Wednesday, then exited with her lawyer to meet behind closed doors with a judge.

Julie A. Smith, 58, of Skowhegan, her lawyer, Walter Hanstein of Farmington, and Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin discussed the case, which is set for trial Feb. 1, with the judge.

“What happens on a uniform criminal docket conference date is any case that has not been resolved, the judge wants to speak with the prosecutor and the defense lawyer to find out what the hopes are of resolving the case and what the two parties’ positions are,” Hanstein said. “That’s what happened today. It may well go to trial, and it may well be resolved.”

Smith pleaded not guilty to an indictment in September charging her with embezzling an estimated $85,000 in restitution and supervision fees paid to the DA’s office over a four-year period. She faces up to 10 years in prison for the felony theft.

The prosecutor in the case is an assistant attorney general because the Somerset County District Attorney’s Office is named as the victim in the indictment.

According to the indictment, Smith, 58, allegedly took money paid as supervision fees and restitution in connection with the disposition of criminal cases handled by the district attorney’s office. She is charged additionally with tampering with public records or information by making false entries in government documents from June 2010 to July 2014.

Smith allegedly entered “yes” in the restitution data base that cash had been paid out to Somerset County, knowing that the money had not been turned over to the county treasurer’s office, according to the indictment.

The activity is alleged to have taken place from about April 21, 2010, until about Oct. 9, 2014, according to the indictment. Smith pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of theft by unauthorized taking, which allegedly occurred from April 2010 to October 2014, and to a misdemeanor charge of tampering with public records, alleging she falsified entries regarding restitution payments

Smith, who had worked at the district attorney’s office since 2009, resigned after the investigation began in October 2014.

The investigation into the missing money in part led Maeghan Maloney, who is district attorney in Kennebec and Somerset counties, to tell employees to stop taking cash and check payments at her office. However, the district attorney’s offices now accept personal checks, cashier’s checks and money orders.

A search warrant for Smith’s home and automobiles was obtained from the court by Detective Herbert Leighton, commander of the State Police Evidence Response Team. The investigation began with the apparent loss of $300 in supervision fees in October, according to court documents. A subsequent audit determined that receipt books were missing.

The search warrant was executed by Leighton in October 2014 and included the Smiths’ home on Blackwell Hill Road in Madison, three motor vehicles registered to Julie and Mike Smith, Julie Smith’s cellphone and any bags, purses or containers in Smith’s possession.

According to the affidavit, Laurie Porter, administrative assistant at the DA’s office, told police that Smith’s actions caught her attention when Smith did not follow protocol in filing the money. Smith allegedly did not paper-clip the money together to prevent the bills getting mixed with other funds and did not place a sticky note on the money indicating who paid and how much.

Porter later noticed that the three $100 bills were not where they were supposed to be, there was no sticky note indicating a transaction and no other written record of the transaction, which had been entered into the office’s Excel computer spreadsheet program.

When Smith produced the $300 from an area near the bottom of her desk, the cash included a $100 bill, two $50 bills and five $20 bills — not the three $100 bills originally submitted as the fee payment, the court documents said.

Court records indicate the search warrant was obtained and executed at Smith’s home a few days later.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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