Fired sheriff’s deputy pleads guilty to stealing nearly $200K

“People at all levels of government work hard every day to serve the public and it's particularly hurtful because an incident like this stands out to erode the public’s trust.”

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Accused of stealing nearly $200,000 from the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, a Pennsylvania sheriff’s deputy was fired and recently charged with the theft. According to the indictment, the former deputy embezzled the money over a seven-year period while employed at the sheriff’s office.

Between March 2012 and January 2019, Sullivan County deputy sheriff Mary Handzus stole $198,566 by skimming off the top of the sales of property handled by the sheriff’s department. On January 4, 2019, an investigation was launched after C&N Bank notified the county of a discrepancy in one of the sheriff’s accounts.

On February 5, 2019, Handzus was terminated after an independent forensic audit concluded embezzlement had occurred. Using the sheriff sales checking account, Handzus wrote several checks for her personal use throughout her seven-year scheme.

“Sullivan County government’s initial indication that something was wrong came on January 4, 2019, and that came when C&N Bank processes identified a check that was irregular,” stated Sullivan County Commissioner Brian Hoffman. “People at all levels of government work hard every day to serve the public and it’s particularly hurtful because an incident like this stands out to erode the public’s trust.”

“It’s shocking and it’s deplorable, really, because you know everybody who lives here trusts each other and we all get along, a good community, so this kind of instills a sense of who can you trust?” Dushore resident Christy Avery told WNEP.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department issued a press release stating that Handzus was charged on February 10 in a criminal information with theft. Handzus reportedly signed a plea agreement requiring her to make full restitution of the money that she stole from the sheriff’s office.

The maximum penalty under federal law for this offense is 10 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine.

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