Former head of Howard County Animal Welfare Society pleads guilty to theft

The former head of the Howard County’s Animal Welfare Society has pleaded guilty to stealing money from the nonprofit, according to the Office of the State’s Attorney for Howard County.

Robin Deltuva, 44, was president and treasurer of the Columbia-based Animal Welfare Society from 2009 until she was terminated in January 2015, according to a release Monday by the state’s attorney’s office.

The month following her departure, her replacement and another board member began reviewing the organization’s accounts, and found unauthorized debit card purchases totaling more than $38,584, Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Tricia Cecil told the court Monday. Purchases included a pink golf cart, iPad, travel expenses and work on Deltuva’s house on the 9300 block of Old Court Road in Windsor Mill, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

Deltuva was indicted in September. She entered a guilty plea to a felony theft charge in Howard County Circuit Court on Monday morning.

Sentencing is set for August 3. Cecil said she will seek a sentence of 18 months in jail and restitution.

Deltuva’s lawyer, Lenny Shapiro, said he hopes more of the details will be heard at sentencing.

“At sentencing you get a better flavor of what happened,” he said. “This is not money that went in her pocket.”

Shapiro said details of the situation are less egregious than they might initially sound. He called the case “an unfortunate situation” and said Delutva is “very upset and concerned and feels badly.”

Meanwhile, however, Scott Pascucci, who joined the board in 2010, called the plea “a proud day for Animal Welfare.”

“It was kind of a long time coming,” he said.

A judge had acquitted Deltuva of similar charges in 2010 because the organization’s nonprofit status had lapsed. Back then, The Baltimore Sun reported, volunteers had testified that Deltuva had spent up to $85,000 of money from the organization on personal expenses including on flat-screen TVs, tanning sessions, BMX bicycle racing trips, a new truck and restaurant meals. The Animal Welfare Society was later reorganized, but Deltuva remained at the helm until early 2015.

Pascucci said when he first joined the board he believed Deltuva was innocent, and testified on her behalf. Only over time did he come to believe she was using the organization’s funds.

“This is like the craziest thing I’ve ever been involved with,” he said.

ctkacik@baltsun.com

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