The former publisher of an alternative newspaper in Annapolis faces theft and bad check charges after he turned himself in to authoritieslast week.

Richard Lemerand, 49, of Annapolis, publisher of the defunct Annapolis Voice, is charged with writing four bad checks totaling $16,461 to the U.S. Postal Service to cover the cost of mailing the Voice. He is also accused of writing a $1,489 bad check to the owner of a direct-mail company in Annapolis.

Lemerand left town at the end of May without telling business associates where he was going. He appeared at the main Post Office building on Fayette Street in Baltimore Wednesday morning and gave himselfup to postal inspectors, said inspector Mike Vision.

Vision said the inspectors took Lemerand to the headquarters of Annapolis police,who had issued a warrant for his arrest on July 1. He was arrested at the police station.

Vision said he believed Lemerand had returned to Maryland from Michigan. Neither Vision nor Annapolis police wereable to elaborate on where Lemerand was in June.

Lemerand, a New Jersey native who lives at the President Point condominiums, was released on his own recognizance following two separate hearings before two District Court commissioners Wednesday, said court clerk Carol Lynch.

Lynch said the four checks to the Postal Service and the one to Jack Ellis, owner of Annapolis Post Box, were written in April and May and were drawn on an account at the Severn Savings Bank.

In addition to the two bad check cases, Lemerand faces three theft chargesin connection with the checks written to the Postal Service, said Lynch.

The Voice, a tabloid comprised of news, book reviews, entertainment features, club and theater listings, closed after publishing its fifth issue, dated May 20-30. Lemerand had aimed to publish the Voice three times a month.

Judi Podgurski of Millersville, the former assistant editor, said, "I came into work one day and was told Mr. Lemerand had left town and the Voice was no longer in existence. . . . No one apparently knew where he was going." She said that was shortly after Memorial Day.

Lemerand owed her a week's salary, she said.

Lemerand leased office space for the Voice at 238 West St. from Calltaker Inc., an answering service for which Lemerand worked as a commission-only sales agent from December through May.

Calltaker president Gardner McBride said Lemerand continued to work as a sales agent while publishing the Voice.

McBride said he agreed to give Lemerand credit toward the $500 monthly rent for his commissions. When he left, McBride said Lemerand owed him about $1,100.

"I'm not pressing charges based on that," said McBride. He said Lemerand "did pretty well" as a sales agent. "Generally I was very pleased with him. I'm sorry this happened to him."

He said Lemerand "put in a lot of hours," on the Voice. "He worked very hard at making it work."

Lemerand told McBride when he was hired that he had previously sold construction equipment in Michigan and had run a small newspaper in New Jersey. About a year ago he moved to Annapolis from Red Bank.

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