ROCKLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The members of one of Maine's busiest lobster fishing co-ops, who have been dealing with low lobster prices, may now have a new problem. The Knox County Sheriff's Department says the co-op manager has been stealing from them.
The KCSO says it has been investigating financial concerns at the Spruce Head co-op since early this year. On Thursday, deputies arrested co-op manager Robert Thompson and charged him with class B theft.
Investigators say they have gathered financial records and other evidence through search warrants at Thompson's home in St. George, his camp in Rockwood, a bank in Rockland and the offices of JP Shellfish in Eliot. Chief Deputy Tim Carroll confirmed that JP Shellfish is the company that buys most of the lobster from the Spruce Head co-op. Neither he nor Sheriff Donna Dennison would say whether the believe JP Shellfish was involved.
The Sheriff's Department says leaders of the Spruce Head Co-op -- who would have also been victims of the theft ---have been cooperating with investigators. And they say a variety of state and federal agencies have been involved in the case so far...including the Internal Revenue Service and National marine Fisheries Service.
Chief Deputy Carroll says it will likely take several weeks for investigators to go through all the financial records, to determine just how much money was taken. Sheriff Dennison said the amount could be "substantial".