A tax examiner for the state of Vermont is accused of stealing public money to pay her own bills.
Prosecutors in the office of Attorney General T.J. Donovan say Chelsea Hoadley, 27, of Greensboro Bend, altered tax documents of a lifelong family friend, without that person’s knowledge.
Hoadley allegedly changed employer withholding claims to generate higher tax refunds, then funneled that money into her own bank account to cover household bills, including a truck loan.
All told, investigators allege Hoadley pocketed nearly $16,000.
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The suspect pleaded not guilty to several charges of embezzlement and identity theft Thursday morning at an arraignment in the Vermont Superior Court’s criminal division in Barre.
Media organizations including necn attempted to ask Hoadley on camera if she wanted to give an explanation or her side of the story, and she declined to.
Supporters then held up coats to attempt to block photographers and reporters from approaching Hoadley in a public area of the court building.
In court documents filed by the AG’s office, an investigator described Hoadley admitting to him that she altered the tax returns.
“I don’t know why I did it,” Det. Sgt. Mark Potter of the Vermont State Police recounted in his affidavit what he said Hoadley told him in an interview. “I don’t know why I did it at all. It seemed like a good idea at the time because my mortgage company was after me and I don’t know why I got that idea in my head.”
Potter said in the document filed with the court that Hoadley expressed remorse and a desire to pay back the money.
The suspect was immediately placed on leave from her job at the start of the investigation, according to the Vermont Tax Department.
Vermont’s tax commissioner previously said this was an isolated case and not a data breach — adding that no personal data from taxpayers was put at risk.
After entering her not guilty plea, Hoadley was told to return to court in February for her next court appearance.