Boro secretary gets jail time
BY STACI WILSON
A former Montrose borough secretary will spend three months in jail and was ordered to pay nearly $94,000 in restitution back to the Susquehanna County town.
Annette Rogers, 53, Montrose, was sentenced in Susquehanna County Court on Thursday to spend three months to two years minus one day in county jail on a misdemeanor obstruction of government function charge. Rogers, who had originally faced theft charges, entered a plea to the obstruction count on Apr. 1.
The charged carries a two year maximum prison sentence.
Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth Seamans said, “As much as this matter played out over a minimum of two and one-half years, the Court believes it was much longer.”
Seamans said the former secretary’s actions amounted to a “pretty sophisticated operation.”
Seamans said Rogers’ victims reached beyond the borough taxpayers and council.
“Frankly, with your type of behavior, all borough secretaries take a hit to some degree,” said the judge.
“It was a sophisticated perversion of your official duties. You did hurt a lot of people,” Seamans said. “You haven’t pled to theft but you still hurt a lot of people: you’re family, yourself, people who believed in you. You did away with all the trust placed in you.”
Councilman Sean Granahan took the stand during the proceeding and described that operation citing numerous issues council found with the borough’s finances after Rogers was fired Feb. 4, 2010.
Granahan told the court that following Rogers’ termination he was “shocked” to find documentation around the secretary’s work station had nothing to do with borough business but was, instead, personal in nature.
He also said that neither a book of meeting minutes nor a borough ordinance book existed.
Financial issues also surfaced through the borough’s investigation, including deceptive bookkeeping practices Granahan said was done for the purpose of hiding information from council members.
In contrast to the other borough finances Granahan said Rogers’ pension was kept full and the health insurance was “always managed well.”
Granahan said, “There is a victim – borough taxpayers. We’re the victims of this. It’s not just a bookkeeping offense, it’s a crime.”
Council president Todd Chamberlain told the court Rogers’ actions had cost borough residents thousands of dollars in penalties and late payments.
He also said he did not believe Rogers had taken out credit cards in the borough’s name and made purchases on those cards, including a 40-inch flat screen television, for the borough, as defense attorney Deborah Albert-Heise maintained to the court.
Albert-Heise argued for her client to receive a probationary sentence, citing mitigating circumstances and medical issues.
She said a probationary sentence would allow for Rogers to make restitution. “She has a job, and has a lot of restitution to pay. If she loses her job it would be hard for her to get one,” Albert-Heise argued.
District Attorney Jason Legg, however, argued for a harsher sentence which was ultimately handed down by the judge.
He said Rogers’ actions while employed as the secretary were “certainly something that could have paralyzed the borough.”