Convicted of Violating State’s Charitable
Sentenced to Probation and Ordered to Pay Restitution
BALTIMORE, MD (August
22, 2007) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today announced
that Dianne Pearce, 53, of Silver Spring,
was convicted in Worcester County Circuit Court of violating the
State’s charitable organization law. Judge Thomas Groton,
III sentenced Pearce to 14 days in jail, a one year suspended sentence
and five years supervised probation. She was also ordered to pay
$116,000 in restitution to the State’s Nontidal Wetland Compensation
In 1997, Pearce operated
the Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary, a charitable organization.
At the time, Perdue Farms entered into
an agreement with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE)
to settle a water pollution enforcement action by participating
in a wetland restoration project. Perdue agreed to deed a 90-acre
parcel of wetland near the town of Showell to an environmental
trust and to subsidize the project with $150,000. MDE selected
Pearce’s Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary to carry out the restoration
project and the funds were directed to her for this purpose. An
investigation by the Office of the Attorney General’s Environmental
Crimes Unit revealed that after Pearce obtained plans for the construction
of the wetland, work was never done on the restoration project.
In addition, it was discovered that Pearce had spent or transferred
the entire $150,000 out of the Sanctuary’s land trust bank
The Attorney General’s
Office asked that several special conditions of probation also
be imposed on Pearce, including requiring
her to deed the property to a reputable entity able to complete
the wetland restoration project, as well as prohibiting Pearce
from serving on the governing board of any charitable organization
during the term of her probation.
The Maryland Coastal
Bays Program has agreed to step in and complete the project.
In making today’s announcement, Attorney General
Gansler thanked Assistant Attorney General Bernard Penner for his
work on the case.