PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lori Sitler
Pager: (302) 247-1132
Date: May 28, 2003
ENTERED IN THEFT FROM STATE OFFICE
(Wilmington, DE): Attorney General M. Jane Brady announced that earlier today a plea was entered by a former senior clerk in the Office of Vital Statistics, John J. Russell, age 45 of Wilmington, to felony theft for embezzlement of over $145,000 over the course of several years. Russell was assigned to the New Castle County Office of Vital Statistics which is part of the Division of Public Health. Following an internal investigation, launched in October, 2002, the case was referred to the Attorney General’s office in December, 2002. Missing funds dated back to 1995. The State Auditor assisted in the investigation.
Maureen Dempsey, MD, Director of the Division of Public Health, commented, "We are pleased that the matter has been resolved expeditiously. While it is important to note that this was an isolated incident involving a single employee, our responsibility is to assure that the appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent a second occurrence of a similar nature. All fee collection programs in the division have been reviewed and a new system of checks and balances has been instituted. This system relies upon daily verification, supported by periodic quality reviews."
Russell pled to a single count of felony theft for diverting funds which totaled $145,879.72.
Attorney General Brady said, “Once again, we’ve shown that we do not tolerate those who violate the public trust.” Russell will be sentenced on July 18th.