Former village manager in Columbia indicted

Nine counts charge theft of more than $70,000

May 07, 1999|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A former Columbia village manager accused last year of embezzling $121,000 from the village and then using that money for personal expenses and to support her son's struggling restaurant was indicted yesterday by a Howard County grand jury.

Anne Darrin, 49, of Baltimore was indicted on seven felony and two misdemeanor counts of theft of more than $70,000, prosecutors said, in a case that revealed lax oversight of village center spending.

Neither Darrin nor her attorneys returned messages seeking comment. A county circuit judge issued a warrant for her arrest.

Prosecutors and police have been investigating Darrin for more than a year -- since Columbia Association officials approached them with an audit that revealed missing funds, village checks written for personal expenses and false paperwork to back up those payments.

Columbia Association officials declined to comment yesterday, saying the matter is in litigation.

In February, Darrin and her husband, John, filed for federal bankruptcy protection, claiming more than $500,000 in debts. In July, the Dorsey's Search Village Association filed a petition asking a federal judge to hold Darrin liable for debts to the Columbia Association. The petition accuses Darrin of embezzling $121,000.

The indictment alleges Darrin took more than $70,000 between 1994 and 1998, prosecutors said.

In a statement, State's Attorney Marna L. McLendon said the indictment "holds great promise for our goal of going after white-collar crime."

The audit, filed by Darrin's attorneys in her bankruptcy proceedings, spells out in great detail what auditors described as "errors, omissions and irregularities in the financial statements" of the village.

From 1992 through 1997, Darrin, her family members and creditors received $91,855 in payments, but she could justify only $11,356, the audit says.

Darrin used village checks to repay personal loans and wrote $2,648 in checks to her husband, the audit says. It also says she paid her son, Joshua Darrin, $1,000 for Web page design and computer maintenance though village offices had no computers that offered Internet access.

That was a small portion of the $31,000 that village officials allege Darrin funneled from village coffers to her son's struggling business, The Strand, a cyber cafe in Baltimore, the petition says.

Among other findings, the audit reports Darrin could not justify $6,350 in payments for her personal credit card.

Darrin also reported $17,789 spent on furniture and fixtures.

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