Court briefs

February 08, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

Former Circuit Court clerk's theft trial put off until July

The trial for a former Washington County Circuit Court clerk and his mother, who are accused of stealing money from the county Board of License Commissioners, has been postponed until July.

Ricki Lynn Hemphill, 54, and Constance Joan Rooke, 75, still are scheduled to appear Monday in Carroll County Circuit Court for a motions hearing. The trial was moved to Carroll County at the defendants' request.

Hemphill, former chairman of the Washington County Democratic Central Committee, and Rooke each were indicted on one count of conspiracy and two counts of theft of more than $500, according to an indictment filed in March 2007.


Hemphill and Rooke are accused of stealing and conspiring to steal money from the liquor board through unearned payroll checks made payable to Rooke and checks issued to Chalwyn LLC.

The alleged theft occurred between June 1, 2001, and July 20, 2005, according to the indictment.

Hemphill officially became the deputy clerk of Washington County Circuit Court in 1999, and Rooke was an office administrator for the liquor board.

City man pleads guilty to sex offense

A 39-year-old Hagerstown man pleaded guilty Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court to a fourth-degree sexual offense charge.

The man pleaded guilty in connection with an April 2007 incident during which he was sleeping in the same bed as a niece, Assistant State's Attorney John Dunlap said during his statement of facts.

The man touched the girl between her legs, underneath her underwear, Dunlap said.

Dunlap recommended a suspended sentence, which the victim's family agreed with, he said.

The man's defense attorney called the touching an "isolated incident" and said it was unclear whether his client touched the girl over her underwear or underneath her underwear.

Washington County Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. sentenced the man to one year in jail, with the sentence suspended. He suspended the sentence primarily because of the man's family situation, Long said.

The man supports a number of people, including some children of his family members.

Long also ordered the man to serve two years of supervised probation and pay a $500 fine.

Long also ordered the man to register as a sex offender. When someone is convicted of a fourth-degree sex offense, registration as a sex offender is not mandatory, but the presiding judge may order registration.

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