PLAINVILLE - A Plainville woman pleaded guilty on Wednesday to embezzling thousands of dollars from the local little league and stealing funds from the Plainville High School cheerleading squad.
Shelby Lamothe, 43, accepted a plea bargain during a hearing in Bristol Superior Court, shortly after her bid for a first-time offender program - which would have spared her a criminal record - was denied. She pleaded guilty to two reduced counts of fourth-degree larceny.
In exchange for the pleas, charges of second- and third-degree larceny were not pursued. Lamothe was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended, and two years of probation. During probation, she has been ordered not to participate in any fundraisers.
According to police, Lamothe embezzled nearly $6,000 from the Plainville Little League during the 2015 and 2016 season, when she served as president of the Plainville Little League Auxiliary.
Lamothe, the mother of a cheerleader, also participated in a candle sale for the Plainville High School cheerleading squad in November 2016 and pocketed about $682 that was entrusted to her to order the candles that were purchased during the fundraiser, which were never ordered.
Part of the plea arrangement reached on Wednesday included Lamothe paying restitution to both groups that she defrauded.
During the hearing, Judge John Cronan denied Lamothe’s application for Accelerated Rehabilitation. The program could have wiped both cases off of her record, as if she had been found not guilty after a trial.
Cronan said he would have granted the program had Lamothe only had one case pending, and not been charged in two separate schemes to defraud a local sports group.
In arguing in favor of Accelerated Rehabilitation, Lamothe’s attorney, James Donovan, said his client suffers from a disease, which he did not wish to put on the record. He said the illness explained her deviant behavior, as most people who steal usually suffer from a substance abuse issue or have a gambling habit. Lamothe had none of these, her attorney said.
“She obviously has a problem,” Donovan said, adding that she has been getting treatment for her undisclosed disease.
Donovan also said the representatives from both the little league and cheerleading squad did not see any issue with Lamothe using a first-time offender program, provided she paid restitution.
Ronald Dearstyne, state prosecutor, fought against Lamothe’s bid for Accelerated Rehabilitation, saying a judge needs to make a finding that a defendant is not likely to offend again in the future to grant the program. The prosecutor said he did not believe a judge could make this finding given that Lamothe defrauded two different sports groups and only came clean about it once she knew she had been caught.
Dearstyne also said Lamothe deserves a conviction on her record to prevent a group or organization in the future entrusting financial responsibilities to her, without knowing her history.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.