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Charges dropped in Moose Lodge case

June 09, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

Charges that a former Funkstown Moose Lodge administrator embezzled money from the club were dropped Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court after it was announced a private settlement was reached between the parties.

Washington County Deputy State's Attorney Steven Kessell said the state dropped six charges against David Brandenburg that were filed in August 2005 because a private "comprehensive settlement" was reached among Brandenburg, his attorney Lewis C. Metzner, and Moose and its attorneys.

Kessell said by telephone after the hearing that the financial settlement exceeds the $31,600 with which Brandenburg was criminally charged with taking. Kessell was not able to elaborate on the exact amount or what the agreement entailed.

"It's to the benefit of members of the lodge. It's beyond the scope of the criminal charges alone," he said.

Kessell said he did not oppose a request made by attorneys for the lodge to drop the charges against Brandenburg upon reaching the settlement.

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Metzner declined to comment after the hearing about the details of the settlement. He said there are no pending civil lawsuits with Brandenburg listed as a party.

"We have been and continue to be cooperative with the Moose getting to the bottom of their financial issues," Metzner said.

Police alleged in charging documents that money was stolen from the lodge between April 2002 and September 2002, when Brandenburg was administrator.

Brandenburg, 53, of 13822 North Valley Drive in Hagerstown, is arena manager at Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex. He did not speak during the hearing and declined to comment afterward.

Mike Stumbaugh, the lodge's current administrator, said in a telephone interview Thursday that he does not know the amount of the settlement.

Stumbaugh declined to comment about the outcome of the Thursday hearing, citing legal concerns.

The Sheriff's Department alleged in charging documents that Brandenburg took membership dues - $40 for existing members and $60 for new members - from several applicants and issued them fake "temporary" membership cards, saying they would receive their "official" membership cards from Moose International shortly afterward, but those cards never came.

Stumbaugh contacted police in January 2005 to report the missing money, which was called to his attention by Moose International. The international organization normally receives a portion of local membership dues, but had not received payments from the Funkstown lodge "for several years," documents state.

Brandenburg allegedly didn't report any membership information to Moose International, never sent them a share of either new membership money or current membership money during his time as administrator and never deposited any money into the Funkstown lodge's accounts reflecting membership payments, according to charging documents.

Records indicated $13,000 was missing in new membership dues and $18,600 was missing in current membership dues, documents allege.

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