School secretary convicted of theft


November 17, 2006|By Tyrone Richardson | Tyrone Richardson,sun reporter

A former Howard County middle school secretary is to be sentenced Jan. 24 after her conviction by a Howard County Circuit Court jury Wednesday of embezzling nearly $10,000 from school activity funds over a two-year period.

Ethel Collette Kirk, 53, formerly of Laurel, was charged with forging more than 15 school checks between 2003 and 2005 from band and school activity funds at Folly Quarter Middle School in Ellicott City, according to charging documents filed by investigators.

Kirk, hired as a secretary by the middle school in March 2003, resigned last year during a school investigation of accounting records, school officials have said.

Kirk was arrested in September after an audit revealed she had written checks to herself for cash, forged an administrator's signature and falsified records to indicate the checks had been written to vendors and fictitious companies, according to court documents.

Jurors deliberated for 45 minutes Wednesday evening before convicting Kirk of theft of more than $500, an offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Kirk represented herself during trial.

Circuit Judge Richard S. Bernhardt revoked Kirk's $25,000 bond and ordered she be held in custody until sentencing.

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