A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted a former United Way of Central Maryland employee on charges that she bilked the nonprofit out of more than $400,000 by steering deposits to a bank account she had allegedly commandeered.
Dorothy Shields Talbot, 48, who lives in Woodlawn and worked in United Way's finance department from 2001 through 2010, was charged with wire fraud. A statement from the Maryland U.S. attorney's office says she had been responsible for depositing donations into a corporate bank account.
Talbot could receive up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. Her initial court appearance has not been scheduled. Reached by telephone Thursday evening, Talbot said, "I don't have any comment," and then hung up.
A statement from United Way says that its security personnel discovered the suspected fraud and notified the FBI and prosecutors. The statement describes Talbot as a "former long-term non-managerial employee, acting alone."
United Way also said that the organization expects to recover most of its loss from insurance and that auditors are working to ensure that "we can direct the funds as originally intended. … It is critical that justice is served in protecting our donors and people in need in Central Maryland."
The indictment says Talbot, as a senior administrative coordinator, was responsible for opening up the finance department's mail, which included charitable donations. It was her job to deposit the donations into an account at M&T Bank, according to prosecutors.
In December 2004, the indictment says that Talbot was ordered to close another bank account, this one at Wachovia, which had been used to handle money from an internal employee activities committee. Prosecutors allege that she never closed the account, and instead diverted checks from donors meant for M&T into the account with Wachovia.
The indictment also alleges that she changed the address on the bank account from United Way's address at 100 South Charles Street to her home on Triple Crown Court in Woodlawn, and then to a new home address on North Bend Road, also in Woodlawn.
Prosecutors allege in the indictment that Talbot "used $400,000 of the monies deposited into the … Wachovia account … for her own personal use and benefit."