Plea deadline looms for former attorney

March 31, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Former Waynesboro, Pa., attorney Todd Dorsett has less than a month to decide whether to enter a plea agreement or stand trial on charges of helping a fugitive evade police and taking $192,000 from clients.

"All I know is jury selection is scheduled for May 8 unless the case is settled some other way before that," Dorsett said after his attorney, Gregory Lensbower, met in chambers Thursday with Senior Judge J.W. Myers and Anthony Foray, a prosecutor with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office.

In his court order, Myers said Dorsett has until Monday, April 24, to decide. If he tells the court he wants to enter into a plea agreement, he will enter the plea on Friday, April 28, before Myers in Bloomsburg, Pa., in Columbia County.

Dorsett's prosecution is being handled by the Attorney General's Office and a specially appointed judge to avoid any possible conflict of interest.


In addition to having been a practicing attorney in Franklin County, he had been paid by the county to represent some indigent criminal defendants.

Dorsett was charged by Pennsylvania State Police in November 1998 with hindering apprehension or prosecution. They alleged he lied to police about the whereabouts of Jacob V. Schaff V of Waynesboro. Both men disappeared after last being seen at Dorsett's house on Nov. 9, according to police records.

Schaff, who was wanted for a state parole violation and on a county bench warrant, has not been found. Dorsett was arrested Dec. 10, 1998, at a motel in Troy, Ohio.

In October 1999 state police charged him with four counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received, a third-degree felony. An affidavit of complaint alleges Dorsett diverted money from three estates and a civil settlement.

Money was shifted from one client's account to satisfy deficits in another and diverted to pay for repairs to properties owned by Dorsett, police allege.

In a Sept. 1, 1999, interview with investigators, he said he was "robbing Peter to pay Paul," police allege in the affidavit.

He also failed to make disbursements to several organizations from one estate, including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the United Way of Franklin County, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross, police alleged.

Dorsett was scheduled for a nonjury civil trial Thursday. His attorney in that case, Charles E. Ganley, said the suit filed by a contractor was settled out of court for less than $3,000.

According to court records, Dorsett was the defendant in eight civil cases. Suits were filed by individuals, contractors, banks and the county.

Dorsett's home and another building he owns were scheduled for a sheriff's sale in February, but both properties were taken off the auction block before the sale. The building that is not his home was rescheduled for sale on May 22.

"I still own both properties," Dorsett said. "They won't be sold if I can help it."

The Herald-Mail Articles