Woman pleads guilty in Dundalk theft scheme

Ex-treasurer given probation, ordered to repay thousands stolen from recreation council


News from around the Baltimore region

August 18, 2005|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

The former treasurer of a Dundalk recreation council pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court yesterday to stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the organization.

Jody Ruble, a 34-year-old mother of three, was ordered by Judge Michael J. Finifter to repay the West Inverness Recreation Council $17,700. That restitution is in addition to nearly $10,000 she has returned to the council, the court was told.

She was also placed on five years of supervised probation and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. A three-year jail sentence was suspended.

She pleaded guilty to the charge of conducting a theft scheme, a felony, over three years while she was an official of the council. Ruble had also been charged with theft over $500 and theft under $500, but the state prosecuted only the first, more severe, count, which carried a maximum 15-year sentence.

Robert J. Barrett, director of the county Department of Recreation and Parks, said yesterday that the conviction of the former council official was "a wake-up call to us."

He said that members of the countywide recreation and parks board have had "several sessions" with the West Inverness Recreation Council members on improving accounting procedures.

"We've given them guidance, education in a couple of meetings," Barrett said. "The county board can oversee these types of problems and will continue to follow up at West Inverness."

When news of the missing funds surfaced and spread through the West Inverness neighborhood, the issue touched off a firestorm in the tiny community in eastern Baltimore County.

Two officials left the rec council after turmoil developed among the council members and spread to the community.

Board member Michael Mioduszewski was dismissed by the council in December, after he began assisting the county state's attorney's office in the probe of the missing funds. He had also been appointed by the board to lay groundwork for a contemplated civil suit in connection with the theft.

At the time of his dismissal, Mioduszewski was urging the council to institute tighter audit controls on its funds. Board President Adeline Finn said then that Mioduszewski was ousted because he was not updating the board on the investigation.

David Mezzanotte, a longtime rec leader in West Inverness, then resigned in protest of Mioduszewski's removal. He also has complained about the council's accounting practices.

Yesterday, Ruble's attorney, John S. Arnick, a state delegate from Dundalk, told the court that his client was never arrested until her troubles with the rec council theft. He said she has three children and is now working full-time at a Wal-Mart.

Finifter asked the defendant about her salary, and she replied softly, "$7.60 an hour."

Asked by the judge if she had anything to say about her case, Ruble shook her head in the negative.

A crucial part of the case against Ruble was several rec council checks that she made out to herself, assistant state's attorney Daniel Trimble pointed out in court.

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