BENNINGTON -- One of three people accused of stealing items from dance teams competing at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester has pleaded not guilty to a felony.

Maria D. Johnson, 39, of Chester, pleaded not guilty Monday to grand larceny, and a misdemeanor count of giving false information to police. She was released on the condition she not go to Burr and Burton Academy.

John C. Ryea, 31, of Springfield, and Amber D. Wortman, 25, of Chester, were listed as co-defendants and were set to be arraigned on Monday but were recited to appear in court at a later date.

According to an affidavit by Manchester Police Officer Christopher Mason, on Jan. 11 Burr and Burton Academy Athletic Director Kathy Bierwirth reported that multiple thefts had been reported from the locker room being used by the Mount Anthony Union High School and Springfield High School dance teams. The items were mainly electronics and their value totaled roughly $1,500.

Surveillance tapes showed four people entering the locker room who had no reason to be there, according to Mason. Two of those people were Ryea and Wortman. Mason wrote that police went to the home of Johnson and interviewed her son, who told police one of the people on the video tape had been concerned about getting caught for something. Johnson told police she had gone into the locker room with Wortman and seen some other people there, but did not witness them taking anything.


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Police said they spoke to the female both Johnson and her son mentioned, and that person told them she had seen Johnson and Wortman in one of the bathroom stalls together. After the dance competition ended, she said Johnson, Wortman, and Ryea all displayed items that had been taken from the locker room.