Former Humane Society treasurer found innocent of contempt of court over Facebook comments
NEWPORT — The former treasurer of the Sullivan County Humane Society, who pleaded guilty to embezzling charges earlier this year, was found not guilty of a contempt of court charge Tuesday over Facebook comments about her former boss.
Danyle M. Morse, 39, of Woonsocket Avenue, Claremont, pleaded guilty to embezzling charges in Sullivan County Superior Court in Newport last March.
In a negotiated plea deal she was sentenced to serve six months in the Sullivan County House of Corrections in Unity and to pay $620 in fines and fees. As part of the negotiated plea, Morse also paid $7,200 in restitution.
The Sullivan County Humane Society had been inactive for many years when Cheryl Bromley stepped in as president in 2011. About the same time, Morse became a board member. In August 2012, the Humane Society reopened a shelter for cats and Morse became the treasurer. Like most people who work for the nonprofit, Morse was a volunteer, according to Bromley.
Morse left in November when it was discovered she had made two withdrawals from the Humane Society’s bank account. Morse was indicted by the Sullivan County grand jury Dec. 18 on a charge of theft by unauthorized taking.
The indictment alleged she withdrew $7,200 from a Bank of New Hampshire money market account belonging to the Sullivan County Humane Society.
Morse also received three years of probation and was ordered to have no contact direct or indirect with Bromley.
However, the same day of her sentencing she allegedly posted several Facebook comments criticizing Bromley, leading Assistant Sullivan County Attorney David S. Park to file a complaint with the court accusing Morse of breaching the indirect contact condition with Bromley.
In a bench trial Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Brian Tucker found Morse not guilty of the contempt of court charge.
In his verdict Tucker found, “On the same day of Morse’s conviction and sentence, the Humane Society posted information on its Facebook page publicizing the conviction and thanking law enforcement officers for their efforts. Using the alias ‘Sophie James,’ Morse posted several responsive comments on the Society’s Facebook page. First, she noted that she had made restitution and suggested the Society ‘put this to rest instead of letting their leader be a vindictive mean person.’”
Tucker said in his verdict that “Morse’s conduct came unnecessarily close to breaching a condition of her sentence” but found her not guilty, saying “it is not clear on these facts, at least not beyond a reasonable doubt, that making comments about a person to others is the same as ‘contacting’ that person, even if it is likely the person will learn of the comments.”