Arnold T. Vandervalk, the former treasurer of the Carroll Players who embezzled more than $25,000 of the theater group's money over a two-year period, will not be spending any time in jail.
Circuit Court Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. suspended the 10-year sentence to state prison he imposed on Vandervalk yesterday because several members of the drama group wrote a letter to prosecutors on the defendant's behalf.
Vandervalk was instead placed on five years of supervised probation and ordered to continue paying restitution to the Carroll Players. To date, he has repaid nearly $7,000.
"The worst part of this case is the trust worked so hard for, that the Carroll Players put in Mr. Vandervalk, is gone," Judge Burns said at the sentencing.
Vandervalk, 57, of the 100 block of Willis St. in Westminster, pleaded guilty in May to one count of felony theft in exchange for prosecutors dropping the remaining 65 felony theft charges.
Prosecutor Christy McFaul, following the agreement, recommended yesterday that Vandervalk be given suspended jail time and ordered to pay back the money to the drama group. From June 1990 until July 1992, Vandervalk stole $25,548 from the organization's checking account at the Westminster Bank and Trust by writing 66 checks to himself -- 40 of them for more than $300.
According to court records, he did not pay the group's mounting bills, failed to deposit a check for $1,600 into the account and had not paid the group's taxes during that time.
Police began investigating Vandervalk in July 1992 after he sent a suicide note to Carroll Players business chairman Marcia Bogash, who was in court yesterday.
In the letter, he apologized for taking the money, which he said had been his only income after his business failed.
Vandervalk, who disappeared for three weeks last summer after sending the letter to Ms. Bogash, was arrested in October.
"I am still trying to find out why I did what I did because it runs contrary to all the principles I have held my entire life and that I have tried to teach my children," Vandervalk told the judge. "But maybe that will be part of the penance I will pay for the rest of my life."
Judge Burns said Vandervalk's earnest effort to pay back the money begins to make amends for the broken trust and broken laws.