4 charged in theft, using state debit card 19,000 copies of records taken, police say

March 08, 1996|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,SUN STAFF

An Ellicott City businessman and three employees have been charged with stealing more than 19,000 copies of public records from the Howard Circuit Court clerk's office by illegally using a state-owned debit card.

Police say Melvin Gary Rybczynski, 50, who researches land titles from his office on Court Avenue, and his employees used the card without authorization for six months. Officials said they ran up $4,800 in costs -- 25 cents a copy -- that they never paid.

According to a charging document, the card was issued to a clerk's office supervisor whose wife is an employee of Mr. Rybczynski's. The woman also is charged in the theft. The supervisor, Jeff Bridner, told police that the card was issued to him, but he said he did not know where it was.

When told the card was being used improperly, he told police that he may have taken it home by accident and that his wife, Patricia H. Bridner, may have taken it.

Ms. Bridner, 28, of the 7000 block of Woodbine Road in Woodbine, was charged with two counts of theft, possession of stolen property and conspiracy to commit theft.

Mr. Bridner was not charged.

Mr. Rybczynski, of the 8400 block of Timberland Circle in Ellicott City, was hit with the most serious charges -- three counts of theft and one count each of a scheme to commit theft and conspiracy to commit theft. Because of the total amount of the thefts, three of the offenses are felonies carrying maximum sentences of 15 years in prison.

His daughters, Jennifer Ann Rybczynski, 21, and Lisa Mary Rybczynski, 23, both of the 10100 block of Carillon Drive in Ellicott City, were charged with theft, possession of stolen property and conspiracy. Each charge lodged against the three women carries a maximum of 18 months in prison.

An employee at Howard Circuit Court had noticed an unusually high number of copies being made using the one debit card and had grown suspicious. When he saw an outsider using an employee card, he reported it to Court Clerk Margaret Rappaport.

After she complained about the theft to police last month, an undercover officer staked out the copy room for three days and saw Mr. Rybczynski and his three employees use the card to make copies, a charging document states.

Police said Mr. Rybczynski told the officer that he found the card in the file room of the clerk's office. He told police that Mr. Bridner had nothing to do with the theft.

Pub Date: 3/08/96

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