DNR accuses men of theft in collection of license fees

April 09, 1999|By Kirsten Scharnberg | Kirsten Scharnberg,SUN STAFF

A Severna Park businessman and his partner have been charged with theft for allegedly failing to turn over more than $84,000 in license fees they collected on behalf of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Thomas J. Dushel, 37, of the 600 block of Cypress Point Road in Severna Park and Blake R. VanLeer, 46, of the 6300 block of Genoa Road in Dunkirk in Calvert County have been charged with eight counts each of felony theft, four counts of theft by failing to make payments and one count of scheming to commit theft.

The men, executives of Sportmen's Service Center in Grasonville, had signed contracts with the DNR to sell hunting and fishing licenses from their Queen Anne's County bait, tackle and outdoor outfitter shop. Under the contract, they were obligated to turn over proceeds from hunting and fishing licenses to the DNR.

DNR officials allege that between June 22 and Nov. 27, the men sold licenses worth $84,303. They were ordered in writing and by telephone to turn the money over to the DNR but did not respond, officials say.

"They were contacted repeatedly," said Richard McIntire, a DNR spokesman. "They were to turn over all money collected to us on a bimonthly basis, and that never happened."

William C. Mulford II, the Anne Arundel County attorney representing the men, disputed the state's allegations. He said the men were "simply business owners with cash flow problems." Mulford said the DNR has a $40,000 cash bond, which indicates VanLeer and Dushel were acting in good faith.

VanLeer and Dushel were served the criminal summons Tuesday. No trial date has been set.

Pub Date: 4/09/99

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