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For Immediate Release
December 3, 2004
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

FORMER VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT TREASURER RECEIVES 30 DAY SENTENCE FOR EMBEZZLEMENT

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Darnita Dent, 35, a former treasurer on the Board of Directors for the Chapel Oaks Volunteer Fire Department, located in Capitol Heights, was sentenced on December 3, 2004 by Prince George’s Circuit Court Judge Dwight Jackson to serve 5 years in the Division of Corrections, suspend all but 30 days, followed by 5 years probation for her conviction on a charge of embezzlement. During probation, Dent is ordered to make restitution in the amount of $23,000 to the Chapel Oaks Volunteer Fire Department. The sentence follows Dent's plea of guilty on September 17, 2004.The Defendant’s conviction and sentencing follows an investigation by the Criminal Investigations Division of the Attorney General’s Office, assisted by the Maryland State Police. The State’s criminal case involved embezzlement committed by Dent when she routinely stole money from the Fire Department’s bank account from June 1998 through February 2000. The investigation against Dent began in January 2002 when the law firm of Joseph, Greenwald and Laake that represents the volunteer fire companies of Prince George’s County reported that an audit of the Chapel Oaks Fire Department’s books uncovered a sizable embezzlement. Through the course of the investigation, it was determined that Dent withdrew cash from the Fire Department’s bank account without the required signing by two officers of the Fire Department. Dent spent the money on personal expenses and rent.

During the course of the embezzlement, Dent failed to make loan payments for the Fire Department’s truck and the Department lost valuable money for training and uniforms. Most significantly, the Department’s fund-raising ability was severely diminished once Dent’s crime became public knowledge.

The Chapel Oaks Volunteer Fire Department is the first African American fire department in Maryland. It was founded in 1946 through community donations, fundraisers and citizens who took out second mortgages on their homes. It serves the 42,000 families of Capitol Heights as well as its next-door neighbors in Washington, D.C.

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