ALFRED, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The trial of former Ogunquit Town Manager Thomas Fortier is underway.
He’s accused of stealing $400 in parking fees. Investigators say Fortier instructed some teens working for the town to collect parking fees when parking should have been free. They say he then pocketed the money, instead of turning it over to the town.
Fortier faces two charges, theft by unauthorized taking and official oppression.
“This case, boiled down to its simplest, is about two young men, and it’s about their boss and it's about what their boss made them do”, Prosecutor Joshua Saucier told jurors during his opening statement.
Saucier said Fortier instructed those two teens to collect parking fees in a town owned before Ogunquit’s Fourth of July celebration. At that time of day, parking in the lot was free. One of the teens testified he saw Fortier put the money they collected into his pocket.
“That money inherently belonged to the Town of Ogunquit and the defendant, Thomas Fortier, put that money in his pocket and the defendant, Thomas Fortier, never turned that money in”, Saucier said.
The teen also testified Fortier offered him some of the money, but he refused to take it. He said Fortier then joked that the kids morals were kicking in.
Fortier had been Town Manager of Ogunquit since 2009. His attorney told jurors during that time town revenues were up and expenditures down. But he said Fortier rubbed some people the wrong way with his brash and cocky style.
“We are going to present a case to you, to show you the other side of the story that’s going on here”, Bruce Merrill told jurors.
Merrill implored jurors to keep an open mind and not to pass judgement until they hear testimony from both sides.
“As with everything in life, there are two sides of the story. You’ve taken an oath not to prematurely judge this case. My client, Thomas Fortier, is cloaked in the presumption of innocence”, Merrill said.
As part of a deal reached with town officials, Fortier resigned as town manager in February, provided he continued to get paid until the end of June. His trial is expected to last through the week.