Carroll Players' ex-treasurer guilty Restitution promised in theft plea deal

May 11, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Arnold T. Vandervalk, the former Carroll Players treasurer who embezzled more than $25,000 of the drama group's money, pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of felony theft.

In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped 65 of 66 theft charges against him and agreed to recommend against sending him to prison when Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. sentences him July 13.

Directors of the Carroll Players "are very nice people, and they are not asking you to send the defendant to jail," Deputy State's Attorney Edward M. Ulsch told Judge Burns.

Vandervalk, 57, of the 100 block of Willis Street in Westminster, did not speak at yesterday's hearing except to answer his attorney's questions. He was allowed to remain free on his recognizance until sentencing.

An integral part of the plea deal was restitution.

Vandervalk already has paid back $6,000 of the more than $25,000 he stole, and has agreed to pay 5 percent annual interest on the outstanding balance until the debt is paid.

"He has never really explained why he did it, but he wants to pay them back," said Charles O. Fisher Jr., Vandervalk's attorney.

Vandervalk embezzled the money check by check over a two-year period beginning in June 1990, court records show.

As treasurer of the 20-year-old theater troupe, he had sole responsibility for managing the group's finances.

Court records said he wrote 64 checks to himself -- 40 of them for more than $300 -- and failed to pay the group's mounting bills and two years' worth of taxes.

He also failed to deposit a $1,600 check into the group's account at Westminster Bank and Trust Co.

In a suicide note written to Carroll Players member Marcia Bogash in late July, Vandervalk apologized for taking the money. He said it was his only source of income after his business failed. That note led Westminster police to investigate the missing money. Vandervalk, who disappeared for three weeks last summer after telling Ms. Bogash about his embezzlement, was arrested in October.

The embezzlement left the group mired $7,000 in debt, delinquent in paying its taxes and worried about its future.

"This is not something anyone of us can understand," Barbara L. Hurdle, president of Carroll Players, said last night from her Westminster home. "It hurt us deeply. But we've been able to pick up and go from there."

She said proceeds from the group's October and March productions -- coupled with the $6,000 Vandervalk has paid -- cleared their debts.

"The community has really rallied around us," Ms. Hurdle said.

The troupe is producing a children's dinner theater in August and will produce another show in October, she said.

"The most important thing to us all along has been to get our money back," Ms. Hurdle said. "Arnie was a good friend of ours. Although we're hurt, we don't want anyone to go to jail."

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