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Maine newspaper ex-CEO accused of misusing funds

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- The parent company of the Portland Press Herald and two other Maine daily newspapers accused its former CEO on Wednesday of misappropriating more than half a million dollars of company money on vacations, a $36,000 vehicle for his son and other expenses.

In a letter to employees, MaineToday Media publisher Lisa DeSisto said the company had received a $488,000 check from its insurance company under its employee theft policy for funds that former CEO Richard Connor allegedly took for personal use from June 2009 to October 2011.

DeSisto said the unauthorized spending totaled $538,000, including $287,000 in salary increases and bonuses, $90,000 in personal expenses charged to company credit cards, $70,000 for payments of personal credit card bills, $36,000 for a vehicle for his son, and $22,000 for vacation rentals in Camden.

DeSisto wrote that the company's been advised that more action is possible. She didn't specify what it might be.

Connor told the Portland Press Herald that most of the charges were legitimate and that he's prepared to work with Travelers to sort things out. Connor, who is now the CEO of Foster's Daily Democrat in Dover, N.H., was attending a funeral Wednesday and did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

His attorney, Peter Bennett, said the insurance company never asked Connor about his side of the story. "There are two sides to this issue. Someday it'll all be sorted out. Connor should feel vindicated when that happens," Bennett said.

During Connor's tenure, MaineToday Media made deep staff cuts and was unable to pay some of its creditors.