County renews agreement with nonprofit

July 25, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN - A local nonprofit organization that recently lost almost $800,000 that was embezzled by a former employee was awarded a one-year contract Tuesday to provide juvenile case management services in Washington County.

Potomac Case Management Services Inc. of Hagerstown was awarded the $137,000 contract by the Washington County Commissioners for fiscal year 2008, pending approval from the Washington County Community Partnership for Children and Families.

The contract is awarded yearly and provides money to run the Washington County Diversion Program, which offers case management and other services to keep first-time juvenile offenders out of the state's Department of Juvenile Services.

Potomac Case Management Services Inc. has been awarded the contract every year since the program began in 2005. But some county commissioners said they had doubts about whether to renew the contract this year after the company's financial director, Kelley Boyd Macher, was charged last December with embezzling thousands of dollars from the company. Macher pleaded guilty June 12 to stealing nearly $800,000 from Potomac Case Management Services, Inc.


"I think all of (the commissioners) were concerned initially. But we met with them and, even with the charges, they are a well-organized group," Commissioners President John F. Barr said.

Not all commissioners agreed, however. Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire, who voted against awarding the contract, said he could not "in good faith" award the money to Potomac Case Management Services Inc.

"It is difficult for me to vote in favor of the agency when so soon before it has violated the public trust," Aleshire said.

Paula Fisher, project coordinator for the Washington County Community Partnership for Children and Families, said representatives from Potomac Case Management Services Inc. were interviewed by a committee to make sure the company's financial problems had been fixed.

Scott Beale of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, who attended Tuesday's meeting, said Potomac Case Management Services Inc. has diverted more than 1,000 juveniles from the state and helped lower juvenile detention rates by more than 50 percent since the program began.

"No matter their problems, the group's efforts have been outstanding," Beale said.

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