Police stand outside a building marked off with caution tape.
In this Feb. 3, 2020, file photo, a state trooper and game wardens stand in the parking lot of the American Legion hall in Machias after a shooting. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

A Machias woman accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the local American Legion hall is expected to appear in court next month on a felony theft charge.

Mary E. Tinker, 45, is accused of embezzling more than $10,000 from the legion between August 2018 and October 2019, according to court documents. She was indicted on a Class B  felony theft charge a year ago and pleaded not guilty to the charge last July. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Tinker, the legion’s former bookkeeper, is expected to change her plea when she appears in court on June 13, according to court documents. It was not clear Friday if she plans to change her plea to guilty or to no contest, which is not an explicit admission of guilt, but with either plea she will be convicted of Class B theft.

Tinker’s defense attorney, Benjamin Fowler of Bangor, did not return messages Friday.

Matthew Foster, the Washington County district attorney, said Friday that Tinker allegedly stole $14,000 from the legion.

Tinker’s name has come up a few times in testimony during the triple murder trial of Thomas Bonfanti, which is being held this week in Belfast. A longtime member and former official with the Machias legion, Bonfanti told the jury in his opening statement Wednesday that he had been concerned about the missing funds, and that Tinker was the one who stole them.

Bonfanti, 65, of Northfield said that prior to the shootings he was worried that people suspected he took the money. He told the jury he went to talk to the victims about it and ended up shooting them in self-defense.

Three of the four people Bonfanti shot on Feb. 3, 2020, in Machias and Jonesboro were killed. The fourth, Regina Long, survived by playing dead after being shot three times. None of the victims was a member of the legion.

The issue of the missing funds has been a key piece of testimony at Bonfanti’s trial. It came up again Thursday when Emily Manchester, a bartender at the legion hall, was questioned on the witness stand.

Manchester testified that she served Bonfanti at the legion hall on the morning of the shootings, and that she went through all the legion’s financial records after the funds were discovered missing.

Jeffrey Toothaker, Bonfanti’s defense attorney, asked Manchester to say on the stand who was suspected of stealing the funds. Manchester did not want to say who it was, because she said American Legion officials told her not to. After Justice Bruce Mallonee, the judge presiding over the trial, told her she should answer the question, Manchester said it was Tinker.

Bonfanti’s trial in Belfast, where it was moved because of concerns about pre-trial publicity, is expected to conclude next week, after the Memorial Day holiday.

Brian Smith, commander of the Machias legion post, did not return a call Friday seeking comment.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....