AUGUSTA — A Belgrade woman who stole $221,000 from the Alfond Youth & Community Center in Waterville in almost daily cash thefts over six years was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison.

Sherrie A. Genness, 46, was also ordered to pay $221,000 in restitution as a condition of her three-year probation.

Of the $221,000, $125,000 is to be paid back to the nonprofit club and $96,000 to the club’s insurance carrier, Hanover Insurance, which paid that amount to the club as part of its insurance coverage.

Club officials said that when Genness was stealing from the club, she was taking from some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

“I want the court to understand Ms. Genness did not steal from a big, multinational corporation. She stole from a community center serving the most vulnerable people in our community, these people are children and teenagers,” said Maeghan Maloney, the district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, who was speaking Wednesday as a member of the Alfond Youth & Community Center board of directors.

“What these children are given there is a safe place to grow up and to learn. These are the children, these are the teens, that Ms. Genness stole from. And she didn’t steal from them one day. She stole from them day after day after day — for years. And that’s what really hurts.”


Genness did not speak in court Wednesday.

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. It also offers programs for adults.

After the theft was discovered, Ken Walsh, the chief executive officer of the Alfond Center, issued a statement 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 $96,000 of the money was recovered through insurance.

Leslie Wilson, former finance director of the club, said the thefts took place from 2014 to 2019, when “cash skimming” was discovered during a data analysis, with those transactions all linked to Genness.

Wilson said Genness would take cash payments and then delete the payments from the club’s books at night or on weekends. Wilson said Genness did that about 1,700 times between 2014 and 2019.


Wilson said when Genness was confronted, she said she had not taken the cash. She just “fixed things.”

“There was never an explanation why 1,700 things had to be fixed,” Wilson said.

Several friends, family members and former or current co-workers vouched for Genness in court, saying she was incredibly giving and helpful, a great mother to her two daughters and extremely active in the community, volunteering to coach youth sports, running concession stands and helping in the community.

Denise Smith said she has known Genness, whom she described as a dear friend, for 14 years. Through tears, Smith said her children consider Genness their second mother. Smith also said Genness thinks of others before herself.

“She’s a reliable and trustworthy person who’s stepped up many times to help others,” Smith said of Genness.

Genness pleaded no contest last year to a felony-level theft charge in a plea agreement in which she could have been sentenced to up to five years in prison, but capped at no more than 30 months of unsuspended time in prison.


Superior Court Justice Julia Lipez sentenced Genness on Wednesday to two years in prison, saying a lesser sentence was not appropriate given the severity and seriousness of the crime.

Lipez noted the overwhelmingly positive descriptions of Genness submitted in 20 letters to the court. The justice said it was hard to reconcile those letters of support with Genness’ crime, which affected an organization whose mission is to help young children, teenagers and others in the community.

“She’s had an extremely positive impact on people in her community,” Lipez said of Genness. “Her friends and family uniformly describe her as a person of integrity.”

Genness’ defense lawyer, Walter McKee of Augusta, said the testimony and letters from many people showed Genness “is someone who is an incredible individual, she’s been giving until there is nothing else to give.”

Charles Boyle, a state assistant attorney general, said the state, which sought a 30-month unsuspended prison term for Genness, was pleased with the two-year sentence, including the requirement for restitution.

Boyle expressed doubts that Genness would be able to repay the full amount she stole from the club. He said the money could be paid back through a payment plan.

He said the money Genness stole would have been available to help fund the club’s operations. He also said the club paid a forensic accountant to uncover Genness’ crimes, and staff members who spent many hours investigating what had happened and how much money had been taken.

Genness was in a position of trust after working at the club for about two decades, according to Boyle.

He said Genness, who had no prior criminal record, has expressed no remorse for her crime, which Boyle said was more like almost 2,000 little crimes committed over many years, one transaction at a time.

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