DANFORTH – Tens of thousands of dollars have vanished in Danforth, according to town officials, who have been looking into the incident for years. It’s left residents and officials frustrated, and as the investigation continues, they’re weighing their options.
“A lot of people were very surprised. I think they were shocked,” said Jon Pottle, the town’s attorney.
More than $100,000 in town funds has disappeared, according to a statement from the town
“Obviously there’s missing funds, missing money, so there’s that loss,” said Pottle, “but there’s also that aspect of the public trust in local government.”
Town officials say the money went missing between 2014 and 2016. By the time the problem was uncovered in 2017, the suspect or suspects no longer worked for the town, according to a statement.
The town brought the case to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
“We’ve been kind of picking away at this for a while,” said Sheriff Barry Curtis of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office investigated, but the district attorney’s office has twice declined to prosecute, citing lack of resources, according to the town.
“They felt, still, that we didn’t have enough. They wanted an accountant to look at it,” said Curtis. “We ended up getting it back. We submitted it again, and then they felt that it still wasn’t enough.”
Insurance policies have covered a portion of the town’s losses.
“I feel bad for what money they did lose. It is a small area and things like that, it’s pretty devastating for their budget for the year,” Curtis said.
The situation was brought before residents in a 2020 town meeting. The town’s attorney said it left locals surprised and angry.
“The taxpayers were frustrated with the current status quo, and I think struggling with what to do next,” Pottle said.
Danforth officials met again Feb. 4 to consider additional steps. Pottle said they could pursue criminal or civil action, but both come with costs of their own.
“It’s a sensitive matter. It’s one that the town takes very serious,” said Pottle. “And again, it’s very frustrating because you have missing funds, not clear whether or not they may be completely recouped.”
In terms of a statute of limitations for pursuing criminal or civil action, Pottle said the clock is ticking. He told our news team the town should have an update on a potential path forward in the next three to six months.