Maine office manager charged with embezzling more than $100k

blankELLSWORTH — A Waldo County woman has been charged with theft and forgery after police said she allegedly bilked a business where she worked out of more than $100,000. Michelle Ludden, 35, of Jackson was summoned by Ellsworth Police Detective Dotty Small Tuesday on charges of felony-level theft and forgery after she allegedly stole $106,242.44 from a local dentist’s office over a period of 16 months. Small said Ludden worked as office manager at the practice, and as such had direct access to its finances. Small said Ludden allegedly used a debit card she was not authorized to use to fund a separate business account and then wrote checks payable to herself and others from the latter account. Small said Ludden also made cash withdrawals from that latter business account. The thefts are alleged to have occurred in a period between December 2014 and April of this year. The forgery charge stems from Ludden allegedly forging her employer’s signature to endorse the checks that she then went on to make out to herself and others. Small said the employer came to police in April after a bank informed the employer that the practice’s account was overdrawn. Small said both charges against Ludden are Class B charges. Class B theft is defined as a theft involving $10,000 or more, Small said, and is the highest level theft charge in Maine (the state does not have a Class A theft charge). Likewise, Class B forgery is the most serious forgery charge an individual can face. Ludden is due in court in Ellsworth on Tuesday, July 19.
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