Claudia Viles, the former Anson tax collector charged with stealing more than $400,000 from the Anson Town Office, will be tried in June.

Viles’ attorney, Walter McKee, said Wednesday he could not comment on why the trial finally was scheduled after several months of delays while evidence was reviewed. Jury selection is scheduled for June 15 with the trial to begin June 20, according to Skowhegan District Court records.

Viles pleaded not guilty to 13 counts against her in September and continues to maintain her innocence, McKee said. He said all evidence in the case has been reviewed and bail for Viles will continue at $10,000 unsecured, meaning it doesn’t have to be paid unless she fails to comply with conditions of release or fails to attend a scheduled court appearance.

Concerns about money missing from the Town Office first were brought to residents’ attention about a year ago, when an excerpt from the annual town audit showing a $77,000 discrepancy in town financial statements was made public at Town Meeting.

Court records later revealed that former Anson Administrative Assistant Triss Smith noticed the discrepancy in December 2014, shortly after a new computer system was introduced at the Town Office that required employees to make daily deposits of money coming in.

Audits by accountants Purdy Powers & Co. have revealed shortfalls totaling $438,712 missing from the Town Office from 2011 through 2014. The amount is the biggest alleged to have been stolen by a municipal official in the course of doing her job that law enforcement and state officials can recall, they have said. The most recent case before the one involving Viles occurred in the early 1990s, when Chelsea’s town clerk, Doris Reed, was convicted of stealing about $250,000 in excise tax money from 1988 to 1992.


Because Viles was an elected official and Anson had no recall ordinance, she could not be removed from office until she was charged. The case prompted town officials to propose such an ordinance, which residents approved in November. Residents also voted to approve changing the job of tax collector from an elective one to an appointive position.

Since Viles resigned from her position in September, other steps also have been taken to ensure that town money is managed appropriately, according to town officials. On Tuesday, the Board of Selectmen agreed to a recommendation by Administrative Assistant Tammy Murray that they review the town checkbook on a monthly basis, along with warrants for town bills.

Murray said Wednesday that her recommendation came from the town auditor and will ensure that there are additional eyes on the town accounts.

“I like the checks and balances. It’s just good bookkeeping to make sure there’s another set of eyes on everything,” she said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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