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Office manager pleads guilty to stealing from boss

June 05, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

Shortly after being hired as an office manager for a Mount Airy businessman, Chris Marshall Shifflett began helping himself to the more than $37,000 worth of assets.

Shifflett Monday pleaded guilty to felony theft/scheme in Washington County Circuit Court and agreed to pay restitution.

Shifflett first will have to serve 18 months in the Washington County Detention Center for the crime, which Judge Kennedy Boone described as an outrage.

"You're a thief ... you violated these people's trust," Boone said.

Shifflett, 48, formerly of Hagerstown, was sentenced to the 15-year maximum for the crime but the bulk of the sentence was suspended so restitution could begin sooner.

He is in the Frederick County Detention Center for nonpayment of child support.

In March 1998, Kenneth Clements was looking for a bookkeeper for his business when he met and hired Shifflett as an office manager, according to court records.

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Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Arthur Rozes told Boone that Clements became ill in June 1998, and left business matters to Shifflett through May 1999.

During that time, Shifflett was apparently writing checks to himself and signing Clements' name, making withdrawals from the bank and taking money instead of depositing it, Rozes said.

The total missing is $37,500, Clements said, claiming he's out the entire amount because he failed to report the loss before the six-month bank cutoff time in such cases.

Shifflett said he doesn't think he took that much but he couldn't be sure.

"I paid child support," Shifflett said in answer to Boone's question about whether the money went toward alcohol, drugs or women.

"But you're in jail for nonpayment of child support," Boone said.

Shifflett smiled and shrugged.

Boone placed Shifflett on supervised probation for three years to make sure restitution is paid.

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