Ex-Washington County employee enters Alford plea to extortion charge

January 09, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - A former Washington County employee who was indicted in July on extortion charges entered an Alford plea Monday to a misdemeanor charge of attempted extortion under $500.

In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but concedes the state has sufficient evidence to gain a conviction.

Jeffrey L. Shetron, 49, who worked in the county's water and sewer department, attempted to convince W.F. Delauter & Sons to give him a gasoline-powered generator worth more than $500 in June 2006, Assistant State's Attorney Steven Kessell said Monday in Washington County Circuit Court.

Shetron said he would sign off on one of the contractor's projects if a generator found its way into his truck, Kessell said during his reading of the statement of facts.


Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III granted Shetron probation before judgment and ordered him to serve 18 months of unsupervised probation. Shetron also must pay a $250 fine, Boone said.

Under the terms of probation before judgment, the sentence is not imposed if all conditions of probation are met.

Shetron's sentence was similar to the one given previously to James Ernest Bishop, 62, the county's former water quality deputy director. Bishop was indicted in July 2007 and pleaded guilty in December 2007 to a felony count of extortion by a public official in connection with two incidents dating to 2004.

Bishop, who had no prior criminal record, must serve 15 months of unsupervised probation. Bishop retired from the county after more than 20 years of service.

Shetron's employment with the county was terminated in February 2007, his defense attorney said Monday.

In court Monday, Shetron said he was extremely embarrassed and apologized for the comment he made.

During Bishop's plea hearing in December, Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael spoke to area contractors.

Michael said in December that Bishop had been acting in a manner that was the "culture of the industry."

The equipment Bishop pleaded guilty to extorting - a $1,400 laser level - was found years later in a county office, unopened and unused.

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