A former employee of the Vermont State Fair is facing four felony charges after police said she forged checks totaling about $6,000 on the fair’s account to pay her back rent in 2016.
Leslie B. Ashcroft, 36, pleaded not guilty on Monday in Rutland criminal court to four felony counts of forgery.
Ashcroft was released without bail.
In an affidavit, Detective Daniel Meytin, of the Rutland City Police Department, said Officer Sean Maguire was sent to the Vermont State Fairgrounds in Rutland on Sept. 7, 2016, to speak with fair staff, including then-treasurer John Maniery, Christy Davis, the fair’s secretary, and Mia Hendricks, the fair’s groundskeeper.
Maniery and Davis told Maguire they found receipts for several checks they hadn’t signed. Maniery said the checks were handwritten, although the usual practice was to have them generated by a printer.
According to the affidavit, Maniery said one of the checks had Ashcroft’s name on it. As an employee of the fair, Ashcroft had access to the checks and a key for the locker where they were kept.
Maguire asked Maniery to contact the banks that issued the checks.
Four checks, which totaled $6,320, were identified as possible forgeries. Three of the checks had signatures from “Luey Clough,” but Clough told police he didn’t sign the checks and the signatures were forgeries, the affidavit said.
Meytin said police tried to find Ashcroft in January but she was no longer living at the address in Brandon that police had for her.
In September, however, Meytin learned that Ashcroft was working at a local store on South Main Street in Rutland because she was a complainant in a different case.
Meytin said he met with Ashcroft at the store on Oct. 10. He said she told him she was a secretary for the fair in 2016 and took in money, then made deposit slips for the treasurer.
According to the affidavit, Ashcroft admitted to taking some checks and writing them to her landlord.
“I was in a pinch and didn’t know what else to do and I shouldn’t have done that. I know I did wrong,” Ashcroft told Meytin, the affidavit said.
Ashcroft told Meytin her landlord didn’t know the checks were stolen or forged, according to the affidavit.
Meytin said he met with the landlord on Oct. 12 at the Rutland police station.
The landlord confirmed that Ashcroft had been up to three months behind on rent of about $900 per month.
Meytin said the landlord told him that Ashcroft said her employers at the fair were helping her get caught up on rent. He said he didn’t think it was unusual because he had seen other employers help tenants.
If Ashcroft is convicted of all the charges against her, she could be sentenced to up to 40 years in jail.