A former president of the Prince George’s County Deputy Sheriff’s Association pleaded no contest Friday to one count of felony theft for what the prosecution maintained was her having converted $9,100 in union funds to her personal use, including the purchase of a family dog.
Retired Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Graydon S. McKee III sentenced Wendy Lynn Tyler, a former lieutenant in the county sheriff’s department, to probation before judgment and one year of supervised probation. McKee also ordered Tyler to pay the association $9,100 in restitution.
“Every law enforcement officer has a preeminent duty of honesty,” Maryland State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said in a statement announcing the plea. “It is my hope that prosecutions such as this one will deter others who would abuse the public trust.”
Tyler entered “an Alford plea,” in which a defendant opts not to challenge the prosecution’s version of events, her attorney said.
“This was not an admission of guilt,” added Robert C. Bonsib, of MarcusBonsib LLC in Greenbelt. “Ms. Tyler continues to maintain her innocence. She simply wants to put it behind her.”
Tyler, as permitted under the union’s bylaws, received a $12,000 stipend plus expenses during her tenure as president from October 2005 to September 2007.
But she also received and deposited two additional stipend checks totaling $3,000, even though she knew she was not entitled to those payments, according to testimony that Davitt was prepared to present at trial and was unchallenged by Tyler under the Alford plea.
The state was also prepared to show that Tyler filled out three union checks totaling $5,400 and deposited them into her personal account, according to a written “Statement of Facts in Support of a Guilty Plea” that Davitt and Bonsib provided to McKee.
The prosecution was ready to show that Tyler had falsely told the union’s treasurer she needed the blank checks to pay annual dues to state and national Fraternal Order of Police organizations to which the association belonged, the statement read.
In addition to the $8,400 in ill-gotten gains, the state would show at trial that Tyler bought a dog for $1,050 from an Annapolis pet store with a credit card the association had issued to her for union-related purchases only, according to the statement of facts. The statement noted that Tyler used $700 in union funds for the February 2007 purchase, as the prosecution accepted the treasurer’s comment that Tyler “might have” placed $350 into the association’s petty cash fund.
The concerns were uncovered during an accounting audit conducted at the direction of Robert Cease, Tyler’s successor as president, according to the statement. When Cease confronted her with the financial irregularities in August 2009, Tyler said, “I hope you ain’t just looking at me because the last two are just as dirty as me,” the statement read.
Tyler also defended the purchase of the dog, saying she had used the union’s credit card “by mistake,” according to the statement.
Tyler, in accepting the statement of facts, “agreed that was the state’s position,” Bonsib said.
“We did not agree that they represent the true facts,” he added. “The personal and financial costs were such that Ms. Tyler decided to resolve it at this level.”