Reeder, courtesy of the Sanford Police Department.
UPDATE (4:18 p.m.): Peggy Taphorn, the Temple’s artistic director, provided a statement to the Rant detailing the circumstances of the embezzlement and saying it “wreaked havoc” on the organization’s reputation.

“Reeder’s theft has shaken this organization to the core and it will take years to recover,” she said. “The funds he stole were to be used as an investment in our youth programs which serve over 10,000 kids annually, maintenance and upgrades to our four historic buildings and the ability to hire more staff or provide health and pension benefits for the existing staff. During his brief tenure at the Temple Theatre Reeder wreaked havoc on the organization has stood downtown since 1925 and the repercussions will be long lasting.”

Read Taphorn’s full statement here.

ORIGINAL STORY: A former bookkeeper at downtown Sanford’s Temple Theatre was sentenced to between four and six years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to stealing more than $100,000.

Tom Reeder, 46, of Courtside Lane in Sanford, was charged in February with a single count of felony embezzlement following a January disclosure that $132,378 had been stolen from the theater’s capital reserve account. The theater’s leadership later identified more missing money, and Reeder was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $145,000.

Sources told the Rant in February that Reeder was the theater’s bookkeeper for eight months in 2017 until abruptly quitting that December. He had worked there on a part-time basis while also apparently holding a full time job with Lillington door supplier Boon Edam.

Reeder was represented in court Monday by Raleigh attorney Kevin Marcilliat. Lee County Assistant District Attorney Chris Autry prosecuted.

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The historic theater went up in 1925 and operated until the 1960s in a variety of capacities before shutting down. It reopened in 1985 as a nonprofit professional theater hosting multiple productions per year, as well as a variety of education opportunities for young people.

Today it is widely regarded as Sanford and Lee County’s top tourist attraction. The organization does receive a small amount of taxpayer funding from both the city of Sanford ($18,000 in the current fiscal year) and Lee County ($5,000) but relies on ticket sales and a robust fundraising operation for the remainder of its budget.

The embezzlement was the second such case a downtown nonprofit in as many years. In August 2017, the affordable housing nonprofit which owns the Wilrik Hotel, the Sanford Affordable Housing Development Corporation, reported that someone had made $100,000 in unauthorized charges against the organization. Police at the time said they’d referred the case to the State Bureau of Investigation.