Woman charged in theft surrenders

More than $84,000 stolen at Elkridge golf course

April 12, 2002|By Lisa Goldberg and Larry Carson | Lisa Goldberg and Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

The former office manager for a Howard County-owned golf course in Elkridge surrendered herself for arrest yesterday on charges that she stole more than $84,000 in cash while working there.

Prosecutors allege that Deborah M. Kekich, 36, of the 3300 block Dulany St. in Baltimore took the money, most of which they believe was lost in online gambling. She was released on $7,500 bail. Arraignment was scheduled for May 7.

Gary J. Arthur, director of Howard's Department of Recreation and Parks, said the county has been reimbursed for the loss by Kemper Sports Management, a Chicago firm that runs the golf course. Kemper, in turn, had insurance to cover the loss.

Still, Arthur said the theft "is disheartening. I really think the person was ill."

Kekich resigned in July from her post at Timbers at Troy, a 5 1/2 -year-old, 18-hole course built with about $7.5 million in county funds. She left about the same time that a Howard County police detective was assigned to the case, said Lara Weathersbee, a Howard assistant state's attorney.

Police received a report of the theft after a new person began training for Kekich's job. An eight-month investigation led police to believe that Kekich, who was office manager from May 2000 to July 2001, took money that was supposed to be deposited in banks.

Kemper officials audited the books at the golf course, after noticing discrepancies in cash flow and deposits, Weathersbee said, and found $84,192.86 missing.

Investigators learned through interviews with staff members at the Elkridge course that Kekich was the employee responsible for making the bank deposits, Weathersbee said.

Kyle Warfield, Kemper's general manager of the course, declined to comment.

A warrant for Kekich's arrest was issued Wednesday, and she turned herself in at 8 a.m. yesterday.

District Court records show that Kekich was charged with issuing bad checks five times between 1996 and 1998 in Baltimore City and County, but each time the charges were dropped.

Last year, the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation filed a civil suit against Kekich in Howard County District Court, alleging that she committed unemployment insurance fraud. Court records show that she agreed to pay a judgment of more than $5,000 in the case; as of the end of last month, she still owed the money.

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