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Small Town Scandal

Isle La Motte, Vermont - March 12, 2007

Isle La Motte is a tiny island town surrounded by Lake Champlain. Winter is an especially quiet time of year for the 540 residents here.

"When you trust people and then they take your money from you, that's gonna stop," says resident Bobby Dean.

But on this day there's plenty of talk.  Word that the town clerk and treasurer, Suzanne LaBombard, took town money, has folks fuming.

"Just wondering where the heck the money went!" says Dean.

Isle La Motte's town attorney, Michael Gawne, says LaBombard reimbursed the town $150,000 after she admitted what she had done to a selectboard member the morning after Town Meeting Day. LaBombard's father sits on the board.

We tried to talk to her at her Isle La Motte home, she apparently wasn't there and didn't respond to our phone calls.

"The approximation of the misappropriations is $100,000. The extra $50,000 will cover the interest and the cost of an audit and the town attorney fees," says town attorney Michael Gawne.

Reporter:  "When you say misappropriation are you talking embezzlement here?"

Gawne: "I say misappropriation, I think people will draw their own conclusion."

LaBombard was reelected town clerk and treasurer on Town Meeting Day. She won by nearly a 3-1 margin over her challenger.

Amid the controversy LaBombard has resigned. Leaving the town with two unfilled positions. Locks have been changed at town hall and LaBombard handed over the keys she's held for nearly twenty years.

The town must now find a replacement. An interim town clerk and treasurer may be appointed.

"She appears to be very remorseful," says Gawne.

Many residents suspected the town's finances were off.  $100,000 is a lot of money for a small town to miss. Now some are calling for even more changes in town government.  They want two selectmen, including LaBombard's father, to step down.

"We need new blood in the town office," says Dean.

 "Change is good, change is good," says George LeClair of Isle La Motte.

The Vermont State Police is investigating the incident.  Criminal charges could be coming.

A special town meeting was called for Tuesday night to discuss what to do in response to the scandal.  That meeting is at town hall at 7:30.

Darren Perron - Channel 3 News

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