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News Maryland Anne Arundel County Glen Burnie

Community leader convicted of theft from Severn condo association

An Anne Arundel County woman once honored for her activism pleaded guilty Thursday to misusing nearly $74,000 of her community association's money.

Wanda Brooks Hebron pleaded guilty to one count of theft scheme of more than $500 in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

Assistant State's Attorney Michael Cogan said that from 2002 through 2009, Hebron used a debit card belonging to the Stillmeadows Condominium Association in Severn to make $73,943.12 worth of purchases at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores, and to pay cellphone bills.

Some of the purchases were made in North Carolina, where Cogan said Hebron owned property.

Hebron was president of the association at the time and the charges were discovered after a new board member asked questions about finances. Hebron turned over bank statements, a checkbook and a cut-up credit card to the board, Cogan said. There were no invoices for most of the transactions.

Hebron, 53, apologized in court, but after the hearing denied she was guilty. She said she never made purchases out of state and does not own property in North Carolina. Some of the purchases were for legitimate meetings at restaurants on behalf of the association, she said.

Hebron suffers from degenerative disk disease, diabetes and other ailments, and said she pleaded guilty because of her health problems.

Hebron's attorney, Daryl Jones, said shame and embarrassment has been a punishment in itself. He said Hebron worked hard for her community, which is in a "very troubled" part of Severn, and she had been respected for her work establishing programs for children and organizing community cleanup events.

Judge Michele Jaklitsch sentenced Hebron to six months in jail but suspended all of the time. She also sentenced Hebron to five years of supervised probation and ordered her to complete 100 hours of community service and make $25 monthly payments toward restitution.

The condominium association was able to recoup $40,000 from an insurance policy, so the restitution will be split between the insurance company and the condominium association.

pwood@baltsun.com

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