15-month sentence in Elkridge theft case

Golf course accountant blames gambling addiction

August 31, 2002|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

The former on-site accountant for a public-owned golf course in Elkridge was sentenced to 15 months in jail yesterday for stealing more than $80,000 from the course's receipts to feed what she said was an out-of-control gambling addiction.

Deborah M. Kekich, 36, cried yesterday as her lawyer and her brother pleaded for leniency and argued that it was her inability to handle an addiction that started with scratch-off cards when she was a teen-ager that fueled her crime and not a quest for a lavish lifestyle.

"This is not about greed," her brother, Joseph Kekich, told Howard Circuit Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr.

Kane noted the high dollar amount of the theft--$84,192.86--and some of the intricacies involved in the crime before imposing a seven-year prison term with all but 15 months suspended for a conviction of felony theft scheme. He also placed Kekich on five years' probation and ordered her to pay $50,000 in restitution.

Kekich, of the 3300 block of Dulany St. in Baltimore, had been working at the Timbers at Troy course and making the daily cash deposits for a few months before the thefts began in September 2000, prosecutors said.

To cover up the missing money, Kekich kept two sets of books for the course. One detailed the correct amount of cash and gift certificates taken in each day and another under reported the cash receipts but over reported gift certificates, according to a statement of facts in the case.

Kekich's lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Janette E. DeBoissiere, said the fact that her client kept a true record of the golf course's cash flow shows that she intended to pay the money back. Instead, she kept gambling, traveling to Delaware to play slots and using online casinos.

"She had great hopes of winning money and trying to fix the problems she created with this," DeBoissiere said.

But Assistant State's Attorney Lara Weathersbee said Kekich used "a lot of deceit," lying to her coworkers and stealing money on a regular basis for 11 months. Officials with Chicago-based Kemper Sports Management Inc., which runs the course, discovered financial discrepancies and ordered an audit after she quit in July 2001.

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