Annapolis Finance Department reports theft of $150,000

Annapolis Mayor Joshua J. Cohen said Monday night that city police are investigating the theft of more than $150,000 in checks and cash from a vault in the city's Finance Department last week.

A bank deposit bag with checks totaling $149,843.21 and $3,982.59 in cash was removed from the Finance Department's vault between 2:30 p.m. June 7 and the next morning, according to a statement from the mayor late Monday. The theft was discovered when a courier arrived to pick up the funds to make a bank deposit.

Timothy Elliott, the director of the Finance Department, reported the theft to city police, who are investigating. Cohen was not notified of the theft until Monday afternoon — a week later — when he received a call from Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop, said Phillip McGowan, a spokesman for Cohen.

It was unclear Monday why Elliott did not notify the mayor earlier. Elliott could not be reached for comment.

The mayor "is furious that he did know not about this incident," McGowan said. "He is in the process of getting the answers for himself and the public. The mayor wants to move expeditiously" to find out what happened.

An Annapolis police spokesman could not be reached for comment last night.

The city's finance staff, which handles transactions for city services including utility payments and parking fees, has begun contacting check writers to ask for stop payments and for people to resubmit their payments to recover as much of the stolen funds as possible.

The checks are stamped "deposit only" so they cannot be cashed, McGowan said.

McGowan said he was unsure about how many employees have access to the vault, but that the department "has moved vigorously" to install new internal controls to prevent future theft.

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