Landfill employee is guilty in thefts

Woman stole $226,000 from fees she collected

July 09, 2004|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

The cash-only payments at Baltimore's Quarantine Road Landfill proved too much of a temptation for one employee, who pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing more than $226,000 worth of fees she had collected at the city's trash dump.

Thomasine Dionne Felder, 39, was a clerk at the landfill from 1999 until last year, when she was caught dipping into the cash drawer before the funds were deposited into a city account.

"In 2001, she began what is commonly known as a substitution scheme," said Assistant State's Attorney Elizabeth A. Ritter, who prosecuted the case. "She would take the cash and withhold the deposit slips."

Felder, a resident of the 5700 block of Jonquil Ave., did not speak yesterday at a hearing in Circuit Court, other than to accept an arrangement in which she pleaded guilty to one count of continuing theft, in exchange for a sentence that would not exceed one year. Her sentencing is set for Sept. 7.

Ritter said Felder pilfered city money over several years but stole the bulk of it from August 2002 to March 2003.

"During that time, records show no money was collected," Ritter said.

A city auditor found that $226,828 had been collected during those six months, but it ended up with Felder rather than the city's coffers.

Ritter did not say what Felder did with the money or why it took the city several years to uncover the scheme.

Felder's job was to collect fees from commercial dumpers and noncity residents. The landfill, at 6100 Quarantine Road, charges $67.50 for each ton of trash or $3.38 for every 100 pounds.

At the end of each day, Felder was supposed to submit the deposit tickets along with the funds.

When the landfill was audited in March 2003, investigators found that Felder's scheme was to hold on to a day's worth of deposit slips and the money that accompanied them.

Days, weeks or months later, she would submit some of the slips with the money and keep some.

Felder's scheme was uncovered when an auditor questioned why a deposit slip from July 2002 was submitted in March 2003.

Felder was interviewed twice by police, and confessed both times to the crime, prosecutors said.

Judge John M. Glynn accepted yesterday's plea, which calls for a five-year prison sentence, with all but one year suspended, and five years of probation.

Under the conditions, Felder will have to pay back the money she stole.

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