Missing recreation council money subject of Balto. County inquiry

Group says up to $50,000 might have disappeared

August 12, 2004|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County state's attorney's office is examining the disappearance of tens of thousands of dollars from the treasury of a Dundalk-area recreation council, according to members of the council board who said they are cooperating with the investigation.

Several board members of the West Inverness Recreation Council said they have either turned over canceled checks and other financial records to authorities or have been interviewed by investigators in the prosecutor's office.

Frank C. Meyer, chief of the investigations division of the state's attorney's office, said, "I can't comment on any investigation."

Three board members said the amount missing from the council's general fund may be as much as $50,000. Stacey Mezzanotte, a longtime board member and departing president of the council, said she and another member reported the missing funds to police in May.

County police spokesman Bill Toohey referred questions about the case to the state's attorney's office.

Adeline Finn, who was elected president of the council at a meeting Tuesday night, said board members are hopeful that authorities will aggressively pursue the investigation.

"I want to get this thing out in the open, get it resolved, and get back to what we are supposed to do - have good programs for the kids," Finn said.

No charges have been filed.

More than 75 angry residents attended the recreation council board's meeting Tuesday night at Sandy Plains Elementary School. Many demanded an accounting of the missing money.

Before the meeting, a uniformed county police officer stood by during the board's closed-door executive session, during which new officers were elected and new members nominated or appointed to the nine-member, volunteer panel.

Michael Mioduszewski, the second board member to go to police with concerns, said in an interview that he was struck by lax financial accounting in the organization. Mioduszewski, an auditor for the U.S. Coast Guard, said he is cooperating with the state's attorney's office in its investigation.

The council turmoil comes at a time when county officials are planning for a $1.6 million community center on Lynch Road in West Inverness. The center is expected to open next summer, said Robert Barrett, director of the county Department of Recreation and Parks.

Barrett said he encouraged the recreation council to work with authorities in their examination "to make sure this problem is resolved."

"But my hope is that West Inverness not focus too much on the negative," Barrett said. "Recreation activities are too positive, too important for the children and, hopefully, the board members will return to doing that important work."

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