November 12, 2013

Winslow woman pleads not guilty to stealing wrestling club money

Wendi Willette, former treasurer of the Winslow High School Wrestling Booster Club, denied embezzeling thousands of dollars in court Tuesday

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling
Staff Writer

The former treasurer of a wrestling booster club pleaded not guilty Tuesday to swindling the Winslow organization of thousands of dollars.

Wendi Willette, 41, of Winslow, is charged with stealing between $10,000 and $30,000 from the club, entered the not guilty plea and applied for a court-appointed defense attorney in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta Tuesday morning, according to Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Court staff said an attorney for Willette has not yet been appointed.

Maloney said the next date in the case will be Dec. 10, when attorneys will hold a status conference to discuss the charges.

In early October, Willette was charged with felony theft after a month-long investigation that was begun when booster club members reported they suspected Willette had stolen the money, according to Winslow police Chief Jeff Fenlason.

On Oct. 9, shortly after Willette was charged, wrestling Coach Kevin Fredette said he was fired from his positions as wrestling coach at Winslow High School and assistant football coach at Winslow Junior High. School officials wouldn’t comment on the reason the district and Fredette parted ways, but Fredette said it was because he “expressed frustration” with critics he said verbally attacked him, his family and the booster club.

Willette has been convicted twice of negotiating a worthless instrument, a crime that often means passing bad checks, in late 2003 and early 2004.

Her involvement with another youth sport in the community also ended recently. Willette used to offer field hockey to children through the recreation department in China, but she is no longer involved with the program, according to a statement released by the China town office in response to an inquiry from the Morning Sentinel.

Willette was replaced in that position within the last two months, according to the statement.

Attempts to contact Willette for this story were unsuccessful.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287 Twitter: @hh_matt

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