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Former Washington County officials' slates will be wiped clean if restitution is made

July 22, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WESTMINSTER, Md. -- Two former Washington County officials accused of cashing fake payroll checks will not have to face charges if they adhere to the terms of a deal approved Monday by a Carroll County Circuit Court judge.

Theft charges against former Washington County Circuit Court Deputy Clerk Ricki Lynn Hemphill and his mother, former county liquor board administrator Constance Joan Rooke, will be dropped if Hemphill pays back $14,000 he and his mother are accused of stealing from the liquor board.

"We're very happy with the way it worked out," said Rooke's attorney, David B. Irvin, after Circuit Judge Thomas F. Stansfield approved the deal in Westminster on Monday morning.

Rooke and Hemphill, who is a former chairman of Washington County's Democratic Central Committee, declined to comment after the proceedings, which lasted about 10 minutes.

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Both were accused of taking money from the Washington County Board of License Commissioners, commonly known as the liquor board, by cashing unearned payroll checks from June 2001 to July 2005.

Those checks were made out to Rooke and Chalwyn LLC, according to an indictment returned last year.

Hemphill, 55, and Rooke, 75, were charged with theft and conspiracy in 2007.

Under the terms of the deal approved Monday, those charges will be placed on the stet, or inactive, docket for 12 months in exchange for Hemphill's agreement to pay $14,000 to the liquor board.

Hemphill paid $5,000 of that amount Monday and the remaining $9,000 is to be paid at a rate of $1,000 per month for nine months starting in September.If Hemphill is late or misses a payment, the charges can be pulled off the inactive docket, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Shelly Glenn said Monday.

If payments are not missed and when the entire $14,000 is repaid, the charges against Hemphill and Rooke will be dropped and they will not have criminal records, Glenn said.

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