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Ex-manager faces forgery, theft charges

February 05, 2002

Ex-manager faces forgery, theft charges



By MARLO BARNHART
marlob@herald-mail.com


The embezzlement of more than $22,000 from a Hagerstown advertising firm over a 14-month period has resulted in 16 criminal charges against the company's former business manager.

Maryland State Police in early January served Kellie Colleen Mason, 32, of 421 Indiana Ave., Hagerstown, with a criminal summons. The charges include five counts each of forgery, felony theft and uttering, or cashing, forged checks; and one count of theft/scheme.

Maximum penalties for convictions on the charges are 10 years each for forgery and uttering charges, and 15 years each for felony theft and scheme charges.

A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 27 in Washington County District Court on all charges, court records said.

Trooper 1st Class Michael Kretzer began his investigation after being contacted by the firm of Griffith and Coe Advertising Inc. at 19737 Leitersburg Pike.

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It was learned that Mason left the business office last summer to make a bank deposit for the company and failed to return. Later she allegedly sent James Coe, firm president, an e-mail saying she was leaving the firm for health and personal reasons, court records said.

When a new business manager was hired in August 2001, bank statements and records were audited and fraudulent company checks and other transactions began showing up, court records alleged.

Some checks were used to pay Mason's personal cellular phone bills, car maintenance, parcel services and the like, court records alleged. Another group of checks showed "employee loan" in the memo section, court records said.

One check for $1,750 bore the memo "bonus" for a three-month period, court records said.

Coe denied signing any of the checks in question when interviewed by police, court records said.

The firm was using Quick Books computer software, which allowed ledgers and other records to be changed even after checks were issued, court records said.

The total amount in question is $22,073.48 written on 30 checks between June 2000 and August 2001, court records said.

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