A former employee of the city of Westbrook stole $118,000 in cash deposits over a nine-month period while working in the city’s finance department, an investigation revealed.

Suspicious activity in the private bank account of the employee was reported to the FBI by the financial institution, which alerted the city April 26, and the employee was fired that day, said City Administrator Jerre Bryant.

The city said it cannot name the employee because the investigation is ongoing.

Charges have not been filed, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office would not comment on whether it is investigating the case.

Westbrook Mayor Colleen Hilton made an announcement about the situation Wednesday.

She said that interviews with the former employee and an examination of the city’s financial records by the FBI, the city’s chief financial officer and an independent auditor revealed that the embezzlement occurred between July and April through the “skimming” of cash deposits in the finance department.

Bryant wouldn’t say how long the employee had worked for the city or how he or she was able to steal the money.

“As soon as information is available to the public it will be provided to the public,” he said.

The city has since revised procedures and further separated responsibilities among employees in the finance department to prevent a similar scheme from happening again, Hilton said.

She said an independent auditing firm will also test existing procedures and that the city’s human resources department will review its hiring practices, particularly for positions that involve the city’s finances.

Hilton said there is no evidence that private information was compromised.

“The security of public funds and, more importantly, the public trust is paramount,” she said in her statement to the public. “Our response to this incident will be fully transparent to you, the resident and taxpayer.”

 


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