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Woman pleads guilty to embezzlement

January 05, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A 71-year-old Hagerstown woman accused of taking more than $30,000 from the Berkeley County chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor count of embezzlement on Monday in circuit court.

Josephine Wright of 12433 Gateway Ave. was placed on probation for five years and ordered to pay court costs and $35,374.78 in restitution as part of a plea agreement that was accepted by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes.

A one-year jail sentence was suspended. Wright paid $3,000 in restitution on Monday to avoid being convicted of a felony count of embezzlement.

Wright said in court on Monday that she joined the chapter of the outdoor recreation organization in 1991, but didn't start pocketing a portion of the group's proceeds until 1999, while serving as treasurer.

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A grand jury seated in Berkeley County Circuit Court returned a two-count indictment in October 2005 that alleged the embezzlement happened between 1999 and 2003, but a capias for Wright's arrest was not served until last year.

Wilkes noted Wright had no criminal record otherwise.

"Lord only knows why you made that left turn," Wilkes told Wright.

Wright said she was able to pay the restitution and that she is currently employed by a Clear Spring business.

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