SALISBURY — A Middlebury College faculty member has been charged with one count of felony embezzlement for allegedly siphoning $4,500 from the Salisbury Historical Society over a three-month period last year.
Kateri Carmola, 45, of Salisbury is due in Addison County District Court on April 4 for a status conference on her case, investigated by Vermont State Police Trooper Joseph Szarejko.
Court documents indicate Carmola was serving as treasurer of the Salisbury Historical Society last July when she allegedly made the first of 11 withdrawals from the organization’s savings account to pay personal expenses associated with some Middlebury College-related trips.
Carmola is an associate professor of political philosophy at the college.
“Carmola advised that her place of employment, Middlebury College, did not cover the expenses and she needed money so she borrowed it from the historical society,” Szarejko wrote in his investigation summary.
Court records indicate Carmola allegedly made 11 transfers ranging from $200 to $1,000 between July 6 and Sept. 8, 2010.
Salisbury Historical Society President Barry Whitney said during a brief phone interview that he noticed a major accounting discrepancy in the organization’s records while making a bank deposit last fall. Whitney told police that he checked with bank officials and traced the missing money to Carmola, who was one in a small circle of people with access to the account. Whitney related there was a total of around $2,000 missing from the account at the point at which he noticed the discrepancy, as Carmola had begun to pay back the money, he said. The society is fortunate to raise a total of $2,000 during a good year, according to Whitney.
Salisbury Historical Society funds cannot be spent without consent of the full board, Whitney noted.
The board immediately called an emergency meeting upon learning of the missing funds, Whitney said. He added Carmola showed up at the meeting, explained why she had used the funds, wrote a check to cover the balance owed, and agreed to resign from the board.
Society members were prepared to let the matter go at that, according to Whitney, but that changed at the urging of some community members who had become aware of the incident. As a result, Whitney said the board turned the matter over to the VSP and Trooper Szarejko.
“I … spoke with Carmola and she advised that she did in fact take the money out of the historical society’s bank account because she did not have enough money to fund her expenses,” Szarejko wrote in his affidavit. “Carmola advised that she transferred the money out of the historical society’s account and into hers so that she could pay for her airfare and other expenses for the trips.”
Carmola told police she had returned the money and was “now aware that she made a mistake; she did not think anything was wrong with borrowing the money at first until she was confronted about this issue,” Szarejko wrote.
State police officially cited Carmola for embezzlement on Dec. 23, 2010. Addison County State’s Attorney David Fenster decided on Jan. 26 to prosecute the case. Carmola pleaded innocent to the charge in District Court on Feb. 7.
“We needed to respond to it as the serious case that it is,” Fenster said.
A conviction for felony embezzlement carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $500, or both.
Carmola has no previous criminal record, according to court records.
Attorney Pam Marsh, who is representing Carmola, declined comment on the case.
Reporter John Flowers is at email@example.com.