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Gansler representing former Eastern Shore official accused of theft

Former Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has landed one of his first clients since leaving office in January: former Chestertown City Councilwoman Mabel Mumford-Pautz.

Mumford-Pautz, 82, has been accused by the Maryland state prosecutor of stealing funds she managed as treasurer of the Eastern Shore chapter of the Maryland Municipal League.

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The Chestertown Democrat, who served on the council for 32 years, was charged March 25 with felony theft of between $10,000 and $100,000, according to court records. The theft allegedly took place between September 2008 and February 2014, when Mumford-Pautz was treasurer of the chapter.

Gansler left office in January after eight years as attorney general and an unsuccessful run last year in the Democratic primary for governor. He is now a partner in the Washington office of the law firm BuckleySandler.

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Neither Mumford-Pautz nor Gansler could be reached for comment.

State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt, who once worked for Gansler in the attorney general's office, said in an email that he "is not at liberty to comment at this time."

The state prosecutor is an independent agency that investigates public corruption. Davitt was appointed in 2010 by former Gov. Martin O'Malley.

The prosecutor's office typically issues press releases when it charges public officials with crimes, but there is no information about Mumford-Pautz's case on its website.

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Online court records show that the case was filed in Kent County on March 25 and that Gansler filed for a change of venue that same day.

Kent County Circuit Court Clerk Mark L. Mumford said he could not provide the charging document because it does not exist in Kent County.

Mumford, a Democrat, is one of Mumford-Pautz's sons.

He confirmed that Gansler was representing his mother and said the former attorney general had the case removed from Kent County. But he said he did not know where the case was transferred to.

He said he had instructed his staff not to tell him about the case to avoid any appearance of a conflict.

"I don't know anything" about the charges, said Mumford, the Kent County court clerk for 25 years. "I'm not involved in my mother's private affairs. I have not been in the loop."

He said he did not know how to get in touch with his mother. He said she has not had a home phone for several years.

"I don't get involved in her business," he said.

The Maryland Municipal League represents nearly 160 local governments. The Eastern Shore chapter collects dues from cities and towns in eight counties.

League Executive Director Scott A. Hancock said each of its nine chapters is autonomous, but he was made aware of financial irregularities discovered in an audit in 2014, after Mumford-Pautz left her position as treasurer.

Hancock called the charges "very disturbing and very sad news."

Laura Mitchell, the current treasurer of the Eastern Shore chapter, said she alerted Hancock to spending irregularities. She said she found that Mumford-Pautz, who was treasurer for six years, had written checks to herself.

Mumford-Pautz lost her seat on the Chestertown City Council in 2013. She then left her position with the Eastern Shore chapter of the league.

She was praised at her final council meeting for her 32 years of service, according to the minutes of the meeting. The council agreed to name a new park after her and gave her a ceremonial key to the city.

She said she had been honored to have once served as the grand marshal for Chestertown's annual tea party parade but that her "proudest moments were carrying the Chestertown flag at the opening of the [Maryland Municipal League] conference each year," according to the minutes.

Mumford-Pautz also said that she had been made a "life member" of the Eastern Shore chapter of the league and wanted to re-establish a scholarship through the group that would help students studying for careers in political science or government.

"She said that anyone wishing to make a donation should send checks to her marked 'ESAM' and she would start the fund up again," according to the minutes of her final council meeting on Dec. 16, 2013.

Mitchell, vice president of Salisbury's City Council, said Mumford-Pautz was made a lifetime member but that no scholarship fund was established.

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