SNOW HILL – A secretary at a West Ocean City construction firm, arrested in February and charged with nearly 50 counts of theft scheme and fraud after embezzling over $100,000 from the company, was found guilty this week in Worcester County Circuit Court on one count of theft scheme over $500 and was sentenced to eight years in jail, all of which was suspended but 18 months, but her largest penalty might be the terms of her paying restitution to her former employer.
Janet Mary Parks, 48, of Berlin, was arrested on Feb. 5 at the offices of Fowler Construction Inc. in West Ocean City after her employer and state police detectives put together a lengthy paper trail of embezzlement, theft and fraud against her dating back to at least January 2006.
In addition to her jail sentence, Parks was ordered by the court to pay $120,000 in restitution to the victim, which she will pay in increments of $250 per week through the jail. At $250 per week, Parks will pay $1,000 per month for 120 months, or 10 years, assuming she sticks with the payment plan. Her jail sentence is scheduled to start tonight and work release has been granted so that she can begin to chip away at the $120,000 in restitution she owes.
Parks’ employer, Rusty Fowler, began to notice discrepancies in the company’s books about six months prior to her arrest and started immediately to scrutinize Parks’ activities more closely. He later presented evidence to the Maryland State Police, who collected enough evidence of fiscal impropriety to eventually charge her with 47 counts of theft over $500 and two counts of theft scheme over $500.
On Tuesday, she was found guilty on one count of theft scheme over $500 and the remaining charges were placed on the stet, or inactive, docket. Most of the initial charges against Parks were related to a credit card she opened in her own name and paid for on-line using company funds. Those credit card payments totaled just over $63,000, but Parks was also accused of numerous other incidents of theft and embezzlement including paying herself twice during the same pay period, writing checks to herself from the company check book and even paying for hotel rooms for her pool league teammates using company checks and credit cards.
Another major discrepancy unveiled during the investigation was the salary Parks was paying herself during the time in question. Fowler discovered she was taking home nearly $700 per week when she was supposed to be getting paid $10 per hour for a 40-hour work week.