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Monday, October 25, 2010

Embezzlement victim awaits word on probe in Maine

The president of a statewide builders association said his organization has not been reimbursed nor given any information concerning the embezzlement of more than $82,000 last year by a bank employee.Charlie Huntington, president of the Maine Contractors and Builders Alliance Inc., said the organization's leaders have been very anxious to hear some news but have heard nothing from either the federal prosecutors or Camden National Bank.The alliance filed a lawsuit Jan. 21 in Knox County Superior Court in Rockland against Christina L. Torres-York of Warren, claiming she used her position as the organization's treasurer and as an employee of Camden National to siphon off $82,940."We struggled. We almost went out of business," Huntington said of the impact that the loss of the money had on the alliance.The organization is a nonprofit corporation with a stated mission of improving the building industry while providing quality housing for Maine people. The alliance has about 175 members comprising the building, banking, insurance and education fields.The alliance's president said the organization had built one home and was well into building another with the assumption that it had sufficient equity in the first structure to complete the second home. That is when the organization learned that Torres-York had taken money from the alliance.Torres-York served as its volunteer treasurer for several years until she resigned from the post under threat of removal on Nov. 13, 2009, according to the alliance's lawsuit.Torres-York was employed by Camden National Bank for nearly 20 years until she was fired on Oct. 16 when the bank learned she had withdrawn $749,402 from at least five customers' lines of credit, according to a separate lawsuit filed by Camden National.The alliance maintained a checking account at Camden National, a checking account at Bangor Savings Bank, and a line of credit at Bangor Savings. The lawsuit cites several instances of her withdrawing money from the Bangor Savings account held by the association made out to Camden National but the money was never deposited in the Camden National accounts.The association's checks that Torres-York made out to Camden National were cashed by her at Camden National and she took the cash, the association's lawsuit states.The association stated that when it heard about the large misappropriation of money from Camden National it checked with Torres-York and learned she was the subject of the investigation. The organization was soon contacted by law enforcement officials.Torres-York was asked to resign from the association and she did.Huntington said the bank's position is that Torres-York took the alliance's money through her role as the organization's treasurer and not her position as a bank employee. The alliance's president said, however, that she would not have been able to do what she did if not for her position with the bank.Camden National issued a brief statement last week saying it too was awaiting action on the criminal investigation. The bank stated that any customers affected by Torres-York's actions were made whole.Torres-York has not been charged with any criminal offenses. A spokesman with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland declined last week to comment on the Torres-York matter and would not even confirm that the matter is under investigation.A judge agreed to place a $750,000 lien on Torres-York's property for Camden National's claims and an $82,940 lien on behalf of the builders alliance.

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