Arundel sheriff's ex-clerk indicted in theft of $12,305

Woman accused of stealing from office surrenders

May 20, 2004|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A former clerical worker accused of stealing more than $10,000 from the Anne Arundel County Sheriff's Office surrendered to police yesterday after she was indicted on a single count of felony theft.

Prosecutors said that Debra Ellen Johnson, 36, of the 400 block of Glen Mar Circle in Glen Burnie was indicted by a grand jury Friday. The indictment had been sealed pending her being served with a warrant.

The charge accuses Johnson of taking money between July 29, 1997 - shortly after she was hired full time - and Jan. 7 of this year, roughly when the office began preparing for a critical audit that later pointed to possible embezzlement from an office account.

Police said $12,305 was stolen.

"This was a devastating betrayal of trust," Sheriff George F. Johnson IV, who is not related to the former clerk, said yesterday. "It has affected all of us very deeply. We have just been sick over it."

Debra Johnson was released yesterday on her own recognizance by a District Court commissioner. Telephone calls to her home were not answered.

If convicted, she could face up to 15 years in prison and a $25,000 fine, although cases of nonviolent theft typically bring little time in jail and no fine, said Anne Arundel State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee. Often a judge orders restitution.

Debra Johnson was fired last month from her $26,332-a-year job as a civilian clerk in the sheriff's office, where she accepted payment for deputies to serve civil papers for the Circuit Court, according to officials and the county auditor's report.

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