A New Windsor woman has admitted stealing over a two-year period from two construction companies where she worked as a bookkeeper, but has not said how much money she took, her attorney said.
Patricia Ann Lease, 38, of the 1300 block of Old New Windsor Road was indicted Thursday by a county grand jury on charges of theft over $300, two counts of forgery and two counts of cashing forged checks, state police reported Friday.
The two companies, owned by the same person, reported more than $142,000 missing from April 1989 to June 1991, Trooper Douglas Wehlandsaid.
Attorney Charles O. Fisher Jr. of Westminster said Lease entered "a pre-indictment plea agreement" with the state several monthsago in which she conceded certain facts that "will be enough for a court to convict" her.
There's disagreement about how much, but "a substantial amount of money is missing," he said.
Lease said Friday she couldn't comment on the indictment. The charges are felonies and together carry a maximum penalty of 65 years in prison and a $5,000fine.
Fisher said the plea includes an agreement to lessen the penalty.
Walter L. Weller of New Windsor, owner of the two construction companies, said he began to realize something was wrong with his books about a year ago.
"Things were somewhat suspicious to me. I felt something was being hidden," he said.
Weller owned Carroll County Contractors Inc. of Westminster from 1970 until April 1990, whenhe sold it and opened Walter Weller Contracting in New Windsor, he said.
Lease worked for him "on and off" for six years as a "gofer,"traffic flagger and office substitute before taking a full-time job as a bookkeeper with Carroll County Contractors, he said. She worked at that job for one year, then followed him when he opened Walter Weller Contracting, he said.
Weller said he began to investigate after he discovered money and checks were missing. He got copies of missing checks from the bank and realized he hadn't authorized them, he said.
He said he and his attorney met with Lease and asked her aboutthe checks, which were written on two business accounts.
"She couldn't explain the checks, so I dismissed her," Weller said.
He said Lease was the only one in the office with access to the checks. He fired her May 28.
Wehland said he was called in June 12. He said Lease is charged with using company checks for personal use and altering records to indicate legitimate expenses.
"This is not a nickel-dime case," he said.
Weller said, "I'm not saying she's guilty of anything. I'm going to let a judge or jury decide that."
Lease will be issued a summons stating the grand jury charges, but will not bearrested, Wehland said. No trial date has been set.