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Former Circuit Court clerk and mother appear at hearing

Two charged with stealing funds from Washington County liquor board

Two charged with stealing funds from Washington County liquor board

February 12, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

WESTMINSTER, Md. - A former Washington County Circuit Court clerk and his mother, who face charges that they stole money from the county Board of License Commissioners, appeared Monday morning in Carroll County Circuit Court for a brief motions hearing.

Ricki Lynn Hemphill, 54, and Constance Joan Rooke, 74, were scheduled to go to trial this week, but the five-day trial was postponed until July. The trial was moved to Carroll County in response to a motion filed by the defendants.

A judge said Monday morning he would take into consideration two motions made by the defense, including a motion to dismiss.

Hemphill, the 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.

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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.

On Monday, Hemphill's defense attorney argued that the case should be dismissed because the length of time given in the indictment was not specific enough.

The defense was given a number of checks covering a wide range of dates and was not informed as to which checks relate to the alleged thefts, said Baltimore attorney Joshua R. Treem.

The embezzlement from the liquor board took place over a long period of time, so the indictment reflects the continuing criminal activity, deputy state prosecutor Thomas M. McDonough said.

Treem also asked that the state provide the defense with information about a key witness' mental health. The woman has a history of suicide attempts and hallucinations, Treem said.

The defense should be given the woman's medical history for purposes of cross-examination and to ensure she is a credible witness, he said.

Carroll County Circuit Judge Thomas F. Stansfield said he would take into consideration the motion to dismiss and the motion regarding the witness' medical records.

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

Rooke was indicted in October 2006 on charges of felony theft and embezzlement, and accused of stealing $6,000.

Hemphill's and Rooke's cases were consolidated for trial.

David B. Irwin, an attorney from Towson, Md., represents Rooke.

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