Port Deposit ex-clerk gets fine, probation

March 30, 1996|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,SUN STAFF

A small town's big-time scandal ended yesterday with Nancy L. Peters, the former town clerk-treasurer of Port Deposit, being fined $1,000 and placed on three years of probation for official misconduct, including falsifying tax records.

Ms. Peters, clerk since 1983, pleaded guilty Feb. 28 on an agreed statement of facts before Cecil County Circuit Judge Edward Rollins Jr. Her sentencing yesterday concluded the investigation the state prosecutor's office began in October.

Findings by legislative auditors led to Ms. Peters being charged with official misconduct, which included falsifying tax records, failing to pay her property taxes and not collecting taxes from two other residents -- including the former mayor.

Ms. Peters has repaid her back taxes with penalties and interest, the prosecutor's office said.

As investigators began delving into tales of small-town political intrigue and financial records spilling from old shoe boxes at town hall, state auditors were called to check the books of the tiny Susquehanna River town of about 740 inhabitants.

The auditors found that Port Deposit's municipal treasury was at least $850,000 in the red. Their report detailed inadequate recordkeeping, improper bidding procedures, cash payments to employees and blank checks signed by the mayor.

Mayor Erma M. Keetley, 74, a Port Deposit official for nearly three decades, was not charged with a crime but resigned March 5 at a town meeting.

While the probe showed large-scale, noncriminal financial mismanagement, it "has not revealed any widespread theft of town fund in amounts that would have affected the town's stability," the state prosecutor's office said yesterday.

Sharon Weygand, the current clerk-treasurer, said yesterday that the collection of data to determine the exact deficit will not be complete for at least two weeks and will be presented to the town auditor.

Pub Date: 3/30/96

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