Former employee pleads guilty to stealing $8,450 from CA

September 20, 1994|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Sun Staff Writer

A former Columbia Association personnel assistant pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing more than $8,000 from the nonprofit organization through a fraudulent-check scheme over a nine-month period.

Shari Lee Neiman, 36, of Annapolis entered her plea in Howard District Court to one count of felony theft, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years. Timothy S. Mitchell, Howard County assistant state's attorney, asked Judge R. Russell Sadler for a 10-year sentence with all but six months suspended.

A sentencing date will be scheduled.

The court also determined that Neiman, who had worked for the association for three years when she was fired in April, owes $10,423 in restitution to the association -- about $9,100 for fraudulent payroll checks to a nonexistent employee and the remainder for taxes associated with those paychecks that the association owes to various agencies.

Neiman was charged by Howard County police in April with stealing $8,450 from the association. Subsequent audits revealed the amount of theft to be closer to $9,100, Mr. Mitchell said.

"We're very satisfied with the outcome," said Columbia Association President Padraic Kennedy. "We'd like to thank the police and the prosecutor's office for their work on the case."

The association levies an annual charge on Columbia property owners to manage the unincorporated city's recreational facilities, community services and open spaces.

Neiman was charged with issuing paychecks to a fictitious employee, Elizabeth W. Nehring, from July 1993 through March. The association discovered the theft through an internal audit of the Supreme Sports Club, whose expenses were over budget.

The audit traced the creation of the fictitious employee to the computer operated by Neiman, whose responsibilities included issuing paychecks to association employees, police said.

Authorities said the audit revealed that Neiman has a sister, Wendy Elizabeth Neiman, who applied in June 1993 to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration for a new driver's license using the surname Nehring. No reason was given.

Checks made out to the fictitious employee were deposited to a bank account, and checks and an automated teller machine card were issued in the same name, police said. The Annapolis address corresponding to the account was that of Neiman's sister.

Police said an investigation found that Neiman's sister had no knowledge of the theft. No charges were filed against her.

A search of both sisters' homes produced two ATM cards and printed checks with the surname Nehring, linked to the account into which the association paychecks were deposited, police said.

In an interview with police, the sister said she opened the bank account at Neiman's request in June 1993. She said Neiman told her that she had a second job and wanted to deposit all of the money from that job into a separate account in the sister's name so that their father wouldn't know about it, according to court documents.

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