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Performing group's former director must repay funds

August 05, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Organizers of a Williamsport-based dance group will get back the nearly $4,000 that their former director used for her personal finances, but not before a once-trusted friend is punished for taking the money for which she was the custodian.

Kendra Lynn Barkdoll, 33, of 16907 Hampshire Drive, made a quiet apology after she entered a guilty plea Monday in Washington County Circuit Court to one count of felony theft scheme. The charge was in connection with 14 illegitimate checks written against the Hagerstown Trust bank account of the volunteer-run Williamettes Majorette Corps.

As a part of Barkdoll's plea agreement, the State's Attorney's Office dropped 14 less serious charges.

Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell gave Barkdoll a 2 1/2-year sentence but suspended all but four months, which she will spend on home detention.

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Barkdoll, a mother of three, had repaid $1,000 to the Williamettes by Monday, Assistant Public Defender Eric Reed said. McDowell ordered her pay the remainder that she owed, $2,979, within a year after she was released from detention.

McDowell, who had heard several minor theft cases Monday prior to Barkdoll's case, told her at sentencing that "something in this case is a little different" from the others.

"This wasn't a case where you saw something in a store ... This was a scheme that was devised by you and participated in by you," McDowell said. "You breached the trust" of the adults and the kids who participated in the organization.

Organizers for the Williamettes found out that money was missing in late 2002, when organizers were trying to put together the winter banquet for the 55-member girls' dance troupe, Williamettes Assistant Director Kimberly Yost said in court Monday.

Yost said Barkdoll turned over most of the 2002 financial records, but the 2001 records were spotty. When she realized the missing money amounted to about $4,000 - about half of the group's annual operating costs - she and other officials with the organization contacted the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Assistant State's Attorney Arthur Rozes said Barkdoll admitted in a taped confession Feb. 26 to taking the money because she had run into financial difficulties of her own.

Rozes said she had intended to pay the money back, but could not.

Yost, who said she had known Barkdoll for 15 years through the organization, said "I think it's a classic case of trying to rob Paul to pay Peter. ... I trusted her."

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