Woman gets 3-year sentence for embezzlement

February 24, 2000|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A 36-year-old former office assistant for the Maryland chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society was given a three-year sentence in Baltimore County Circuit Court this weekfor embezzling $269,000 from the organization, a theft that the group's president said caused "irreparable harm."

Melissa Deckelman also was ordered by Judge James T. Smith Jr. to pay restitution to the chapter and serve three years of supervised probation when released.

Deckelman, an Essex resident, entered an Alford plea in December after she was charged with writing 214 checks and cashing them from January 1994 to October 1998, said Thomas A. Kane, a Baltimore County assistant state's attorney. An Alford plea means she did not admit guilt but acknowledged that the state had sufficient evidence to convict her.

As an assistant to the agency's former president, Deckelman had access to signature stamps used to write checks and to the organization's bank statements, prosecutors said.

She was charged in November 1998, when she began working at home after giving birth to her third child and an audit found that the funds were missing, Kane said.

Dori DiVenti, who had been the chapter's president for 17 years, was fired after the thefts were discovered, said Rex Smith, who was appointed to replace her.

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