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Felon still eligible for council seat

November 14, 2000

Felon still eligible for council seat



By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer


A man running for Sharpsburg Town Council who was convicted of two felony thefts is a legitimate candidate despite a decision Tuesday by the Washington County Election Board to have him removed from the county voter registration rolls.

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The Washington County Board of Elections voted 3-0 on Tuesday to remove Jeffrey Irvin Sheffler from the county's voter registration rolls because of two prior felony theft convictions.

State law does not permit residents convicted of more than one infamous crime, including felony theft, to register to vote unless they are pardoned, said Roger Schlossberg, election board attorney. Sheffler was not pardoned.

That state law does not apply to municipal elections, according to Sharpsburg Town Attorney Charles Wagaman and Assistant Attorney General Judith A. Armold, Maryland's counsel for election laws.

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Since Sheffler is on the town's voter registration rolls, he is a legitimate candidate for Town Council, Wagaman said. Town candidates must be registered voters.

Wagaman said the mayor and council asked him on Monday night to draft proposed legislation for the town, similar to state law, that would prohibit people convicted of more than one felony to be a registered voter in town elections.

Sheffler, 37, of 116 E. Antietam St., said Tuesday he will not withdraw his candidacy for the election next Tuesday.

"I put too much time and effort into this campaign to just stop," Sheffler said in a telephone interview from Battleview Market, where he is evening manager.

Sheffler said he filed to run for council so he could serve the community in which he grew up and to "fulfill a journey."

"Instead of dwelling on the past, I feel we should move forward," Sheffler said. If elected, Sheffler said, he would donate his annual $30 council member salary to children's activities for the community.

There are three mayoral candidates and four candidates for two council seats.

The county Election Board voted Tuesday to correct the voter registration rolls and remove Sheffler because of a clerical error in Washington County Circuit Court, Schlossberg said.

Court officials failed to notify election officials of Sheffler's second felony theft conviction, Schlossberg said.

Sheffler pleaded guilty to felony theft in May 1992 for using bogus credit cards and was ordered to pay almost $50,000 in restitution, court records state. The case file in Washington County Circuit Court had shown that case was reduced to misdemeanor theft, but the file was amended Tuesday to reflect a felony theft conviction to correct another clerical error, according to court records.

He pleaded guilty in March 1994 to felony theft for depositing insurance checks, made out to his employer, into his checking account, court records state.

Sheffler served time and his parole expired in September 1999.

The Election Board also voted Tuesday to forward the findings of Schlossberg's investigation to the state prosecutor.

Sheffler had no comment on other charges in District Court that came to light Tuesday during a routine inquiry by The Herald-Mail.

Three bad check charges and a misdemeanor theft charge were placed on the inactive docket on Sept. 20, District Court records state.

Criminal charges also had been filed against Sheffler in Baltimore City District Court and Baltimore County District Court.

According to court records, Sheffler is due in Baltimore County District Court in Essex, Md., on Dec. 14 for trial on two bad check charges.

In October 1997 he was found guilty of misdemeanor theft in Baltimore County District Court and given an 18-month suspended sentence, court records state.

A felony theft charge and a misdemeanor theft charge filed in Baltimore City District Court were dismissed, court records state.

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