May 07, 2021

Embezzler faces sentence hearing

CARIBOU — A state prosecutor has recommended that Robert Corbin, former bookkeeper for SAD 24 in Van Buren, receive a four-year prison sentence for embezzling almost $80,000 from district accounts.

Corbin, 47, will be sentenced by Justice Paul T. Pierson on Monday, June 28, in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou. Corbin was found guilty of two counts of theft and two counts of state income tax evasion after a six-day trial last month in Caribou.

The sentencing recommendation, filed with the court earlier this week, also recommended four years probation so that Corbin can pay back the money.

In his defense, the former bookkeeper said that the money was reimbursement for contracted extra work on the district’s computers and other work.

During most of his tenure from 1987 until 1996, Corbin was under the supervision of former superintendent and former Education Commissioner Wayne Mowatt. Both men are named as defendants in a civil suit charging theft from ECO 2000, a consortium of school districts for which SAD 24 was the fiscal agent.

“[Corbin] was a public official and abused his position of trust,” said Leanne Robbin, assistant attorney general in her recommendation to the court. “At all times relevant to his embezzlement, MSAD 24 was financially strapped and could not afford lucrative unwritten consulting contracts, let alone outright theft.”

In her filing with the court, Robbin recommended that Corbin be sentenced to seven years in prison, with all but four years suspended. Under the state’s “good time” law, the time actually served will probably be two years, three months, 21 days, according to Robbin’s brief.

From Jan. 9, 1994, to Oct. 31, 1995, Corbin withdrew funds from accounts of SAD 24 and ECO 2000.

According to evidence provided at the trial, Corbin used the funds to pay off his credit cards, buy a camper-trailer, and pay on his house mortgage. He also bought lake-front property and bought vehicles for himself, his wife and his daughter.

“Corbin’s diversion of funds clearly resulted from greed,” Robbin’s brief stated.

In determining a sentence, Robbin noted that Corbin had no criminal record, but that he had not “acknowledged the wrongfulness of his conduct.”

Robbin also cited Corbin’s side business as a private tax preparer, where he should have known that taxes were due on compensation he claimed was legitimate. Corbin failed to report $49,870 on his 1994 return and $47,342 on his 1995 return.

In addition, Corbin fabricated reimbursement forms after he had been provided a list of questionable checks by investigators. The forms, which were cut and pasted using a copy of Mowatt’s signature, were used by Corbin to justify some of the payments he made to himself, the state’s brief claimed.

Corbin’s attorney, Joseph Groff III of Portland, has not filed a reply brief regarding his client’s sentencing. Telephone calls to his office were not returned Wednesday afternoon.

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