Suspect pays $8,840 to Watrous water association

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By David Giuliani

A former treasurer for the Watrous Mutual Domestic Water Association has paid the group more than $8,000 in funds she allegedly embezzled a few years ago.

Maxine Gonzales, 43, of Watrous never admitted to any of the crimes and the district attorney’s office dismissed all charges.

Instead, she entered into the DA’s office’s pre-prosecution program, which means she won’t see a judge and won’t ever be considered convicted as long as she follows a number of conditions. She has no prior criminal record.

Gonzales had faced nine counts of embezzlement and six counts of forgery. She was charged in March, and prosecutors maintained she committed the violations from 2001 to 2003.

The Watrous association received a check for $8,840 from the district attorney’s office — money that Gonzales paid as part of her entrance into the pre-prosecution program.

“There was give and take on both sides,” said Gonzales’ attorney, Marc Grano. “This was definitely a defendable case. Given the severity of the possible charges, this was fair for everybody.”

Richard Rodgers, the association’s president, said this week that he was satisfied with the case’s outcome.

“We got some money back. That’s the main thing,” he said.

He said the association became suspicious a few years ago when it found that it had been paying for electricity for three well water pumps, instead of the two it had. He said the files were kept in such a way that there was no paper trail.

But the association hired an accountant who created a paper trail that pointed to embezzlement, Rodgers said.

“Our attorney kicked it over to state police, and the state police did a fabulous job and turned it over to the district attorney’s office,” he said.

Rodgers said he became president in 2005 after the alleged embezzlement occurred.