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Former Animal Society shelter leader sent to jail for theft

A former president and treasurer of the Animal Welfare Society of Howard County who admitted stealing nearly $40,000 from the nonprofit to pay for a pink golf cart, airline tickets and personal legal expenses has been sentenced to 18 months in jail, according to the Howard County prosecutor’s office.

Robin Deltuva, 45, pleaded guilty in April to a single count of theft between $10,000 and $100,000.

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At a hearing earlier this month, Howard County Circuit Court Judge Richard S. Bernhardt suspended all but nine months of Deltuva’s sentence, which will be served in the county jail. She also was ordered to repay $38,584.33 she took.

When she is released from the county jail, Deltuva, of Windsor Mill, will be on five years of unsupervised probation and prohibited from the Animal Welfare Society's premises and having contact with the organization, according to a summary provided by the Howard County state’s attorney’s office.

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“We got what we considered [to be] a fair sentence,” said Leonard Shapiro, her defense attorney. At her sentencing, Deltuva apologized, recalling her dedication to the society and the work she had done, according to the state’s attorney’s summary.

Deltuva was president and treasurer of the Columbia-based organization from 2009 until she was terminated in January 2015, according to prosecutors.

In 2010, Deltuva was accused in a separate case of spending about $85,000 of the nonprofit's funds on personal expenses, including BMX bicycle racing trips, a truck and tanning sessions. The charges were dismissed and the society reorganized by establishing business practices and a board of directors, and Deltuva remained the head, according to the state’s attorney’s office and news accounts.

In February 2015, a board member found “unexplained charges” on the society’s debit cards, prosecutors said. A review of the organization’s three bank accounts showed payments were made on a golf cart, hotel stays, airline tickets, purchases of Apple iPads and iPods, personal legal expenses and payments for air conditioning, heating and refrigeration work on Deltuva’s home.

The animal welfare society was established in 1944 by Marie Werking whose “passion was to help animals here in Howard County,” according to Scott Pascucci, named as the principal officer on the society’s financial report filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

The nonprofit, which coordinates pet adoptions and is known as a no-kill shelter, listed revenues of nearly $170,000 in 2016, according to its IRS filing.

The former head of Howard County’s Animal Welfare Society has pleaded guilty to stealing over $38,000 from the organization.

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At sentencing Deltuva apologized, recalling her dedication to the society and the work she had done for it.

“I do apologize, I do understand that some of things were wrong,” she said in court, according to the state’s attorney’s office summary.

Bernhardt said that the negligence of the society’s board was “not a mitigating circumstance,” referring to an argument from Shapiro who said that there was no supervision from the board of directors.

“It goes to character and she failed that test in a major way,” Bernhardt said.

Pascucci said the society has “always tried to stay positive.”

“We are happy to move forward,” he said.

Since Deltuva has left, “outside of tearing down the building the whole place is basically flipped,” Pascucci said.

Shapiro said Deltuva always took care of the animals but not always the business side of the society, “which she acknowledged by entering in a guilty plea.”

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