WATERVILLE — A Belgrade woman who worked as an office manager at the Alfond Youth & Community Center in Waterville pleaded no contest this week to charges of stealing more than $10,000 from the center, acknowledging the state could present sufficient evidence to convict her.

Under the plea agreement, Sherrie Anne Genness is to be sentenced in January and could serve five years in prison and pay up to $221,695 in restitution to the Alfond Center, according to Danna Hayes, special assistant to Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey.

“Should the court accept the parties’ agreement, Genness will serve five years’ incarceration, with as much as 30 months unsuspended time (the parties will argue before the court regarding how much time Genness will be required to serve initially, up to a maximum of 30 months),” Hayes wrote Wednesday in an email. “Genness will also be required to serve three years’ probation and pay up to $221,695.25 in restitution to the Alfond Youth & Community Center.”

Hayes said Genness pleaded no contest Tuesday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta to one count of theft by unauthorized taking, a Class B crime.

Asked why the amount of restitution is much higher than $10,000, the amount Genness was initially charged with stealing, Hayes said Maine law requires it be proven a person stole more than $10,000 in order to secure a Class B conviction for theft.

“There is no higher class of theft,” Hayes said. “So it is general practice to simply allege ‘more than $10,000′ in any charging instrument. The actual evidence at trial would have been that she stole an amount much higher. Where amount may make a difference is in sentencing proceedings. Had this gone to trial, the state would have put on evidence that she stole $221,695.25.”


Genness’ lawyer, Walter McKee, wrote in an email Wednesday that Genness will be able to argue for a lesser sentence than the 30 months — which he said is a cap — all the way down to no jail time.

“Sherrie has maintained her complete innocence from Day 1 in this case,” McKee said. “Faced with the uncertain nature of what might happen at a trial she decided to enter this plea and move forward with her life.”

According to the Kennebec County grand jury indictment, Genness, then 43, committed theft by unauthorized taking by obtaining or exercising unauthorized control over money from the Alfond Center from or on about Jan. 1, 2014, through on or about Nov. 3, 2019.

Genness served as office manager at the Alfond Center for nearly 22 years, beginning in July 1999.

After the theft was discovered, Ken Walsh, chief executive officer of the Alfond Center, issued a statement about the case, saying that in 2019, managers at the Alfond Center “uncovered irregularities by a former employee in the handling of cash associated with payments for various programs.”

Genness was terminated from her position and the money was recovered through insurance, Walsh said.

Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, wrote in an email Wednesday that the Office of the Maine Attorney General handled the case because Maloney has a conflict: She is a member of the board of directors for the Alfond Center, where she has served for more than a decade.

The Alfond Center at 126 North St. includes the Waterville Area Boys & Girls Club and YMCA. It serves more than 5,000 children through a variety of programs and offers adult programs.

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