A Jay woman with a lengthy criminal record is now accused of trying to steal Christmas gifts from a Waterville non-profit that helps families in need.
Waterville Police charged Lisa Carbonneau, 35, with theft by deception and violating the conditions of release on an unrelated theft charge. Police say earlier this month Carbonneau sent an email to the Maine Children’s Home For Little Wanderers Christmas Program, asking for help. Carbonneau said in the email that her husband had died and fire had recently destroyed her home and she had no way to provide Christmas gifts for her four children.
Despite the fact the application came in after the program’s deadline, it was considered an extraordinarily sad case by the staff who decided to help. But for some of the people working at the Christmas program the story was a little too sad. Sad enough to arouse their suspicions.
“That’s when we decided to look into it a little bit further and use some resources that we have to check on some things,” said Cristen Sawyer, Director of the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers Christmas Program. Sawyer’s assistant searched and found Carbonneau’s Facebook page and discovered she had lied repeatedly on her application for assistance. According to repeated posts on her Facebook page, Carbonneau’s husband is very much alive and their family appears by no means to be in need of assistance. It’s unclear whether Carbonneau was telling the truth on her application about how many children she actually has.
According to one of the posts the Carbonneaus recently purchased a $700 dog for one of their children as a birthday gift. Another post brags about a new 60 inch color television the family also just bought. The caption on the photo of the new television reads, “We deserve it.” Another post says the family “just finished lots of Christmas shopping!!!!”‘
When Carbonneau arrived to pick up her gifts at the Maine Children’s Home For Little Wanderers, she found the Waterville Police waiting for her. Waterville Deputy Police Chief Charles Rumsey said Carbonneau even brought her husband with her to get her box of gifts.
Police had already learned that Carbonneau had an outstanding warrant for her arrest on an underlying theft charge out of Androscoggin County. She was arrested on that warrant, violating the conditions of release on another unrelated theft charge that had already been adjudicated, and she was charged with theft by deception for attempting to defraud the Maine Children’s Home For Little Wanderers Christmas Program.
“The theft by deception that we have for her is a felony,” Rumsey said. “And I’m guessing whatever underlying charges she’s facing out of Androscoggin County would be felony charges. And this person has a very lengthy criminal history. In looking at the criminal history from her printout it is very lengthy.” That criminal history includes multiple theft and theft related charges between 1997 and 2009.
“Negotiating worthless instruments, thefts, stealing drugs, burglaries, misuse if credit identification. It just goes on and on,” Rumsey said.’
The Maine Children’s Program for Little Wanderers Christmas Program has helped more than 1,700 children this holiday season. Sawyer said this is the worst case of fraud she’s seen in her 11 years of running the program.
“It’s heartbreaking, it’s devastating, it’s crushing for us,” Sawyer said Monday. “Because the idea for us is not to hurt the bad people it’s to help the good people. And 90 percent of the people of the people that we serve at Christmas time are good people who are doing this honestly.”
Carbonneau is scheduled to appear in court next month.