An accountant for an Eldersburg car dealership admitted in Carroll Circuit Court yesterday that he stole more than $625,000 from the business since 1988.
Stephen Clifton Sheeler, 47, of Rosedale, Baltimore County, pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft. Sheeler admitted writing more than $625,000 worth of checks to himself from Jeff Barnes' Chevrolet-Geo.
In exchange for Sheeler's guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop 12 other felony theft charges.
Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. ordered a presentence investigation of Sheeler and set sentencing for March 24.
Sheeler could receive up to 15 years in prison, but prosecutors said yesterday they will wait to see the presentence investigation report before they recommend a sentence to the judge. Sheeler remained free on $30,000 bond last night.
He was arrested by Maryland State Police in July after a nearly monthlong investigation. Mr. Barnes, owner of the new-car dealership, told police in June of the unauthorized withdrawals from a corporate bank account.
Court records show that since 1988, Sheeler would write checks to himself from the company's Bank of Baltimore checking account and deposit them in his own bank account. Records say that he cashed checks worth $67,500 in 1988, $92,500 in 1989, $130,000 in 1990, $115,000 in 1991, $150,000 in 1992 and $70,000 last year.
According to court files, Sheeler wrote 78 checks to himself, which he referred to as loans when he was questioned by state police.
Deputy State's Attorney Edward M. Ulsch said he doesn't know what Sheeler did with the money.