Ex-police chief sentenced for theft

Former Howard official stole from mother's estate

September 21, 2002|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

A former Howard County police chief was sentenced to five years' probation yesterday and ordered to repay $43,500 that he stole from his sister's portion of their late mother's estate.

Robert O. Mathews, who was the chief from 1975 to 1979, could have been sentenced to as much as a year in jail after his conviction on theft and perjury charges. During his trial in Howard County Circuit Court, Mathews said he regretted the theft.

"Desperate people do stupid and desperate things. ... I've violated every principle I believe in," said Mathews, who also received a 10-year suspended sentence and was ordered to pay nearly $6,500 to a lawyer who is overseeing the estate.

Mathews, 64, of Elkton, began stealing the money in 1995, after his mother, Marian A. Mathews died and left her estate to Mathews and his sister, Marian Mathews James.

During a six-year period, Mathews took nearly $82,000 from the estate. He used most of the money for living expenses because he had lost his job as a security consultant shortly before his mother died. Mathews also said he was drinking heavily at the time and that he had had a portion of a lung removed.

When his sister asked about the money, Mathews said it was in the stock market but that he would sell the stocks shortly. Mathews repeated the claim during Orphans' Court hearings last year, which led to the perjury charge.

"Alcoholism did not do this. ... Greed and a belief that he could get away with it did," said April Gluckstern, a Baltimore assistant state's attorney assigned to the case.

Howard County State's Attorney Marna L. McLendon asked Baltimore prosecutors to take the case because she had been a police officer while Mathews was chief.

Gluckstern asked Judge Diane O. Leasure to include jail time in the sentence, but Mathews' family and friends said they didn't want him to be incarcerated.

"He's not a career criminal. ... Everybody makes mistakes and once they have attempted to reconcile, they should be given the chance," said Mathew's nephew Gordon Carpenter Jr.

"This is very out of character with the Bob Mathews I knew in the past," said Richard J. Kinlein, the lawyer Mathews owes $6,500 for work done on the estate.

A schedule for repaying the money has not been set.

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