AG Gansler Secures Conviction for Theft Scheme by SHA Worker
Investigation developed after state employee reported drained bank account
MD ( Nov. 4, 2011) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that former State Highway Administration employee Joseph Miklochik, 53, of Baltimore pled guilty to one count of felony theft scheme over $10,000. Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Martin P. Welch gave Miklochik a probationary disposition and ordered that he complete three years of probation. The stolen funds were repaid by Miklochik prior to the guilty plea.
"This is an example of how important it is to have honest, hardworking state employees who report suspected criminal activity to the proper authorities, "said Attorney General Gansler. "No matter how big or small, crimes like these cast a negative light on law-abiding state workers and rob the public of their trust in government."
While employed as the director of the Maryland State Highway Administration's Office of Real Estate Development, Miklochik was involved with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference, an organization comprised of five other SHA real estate development offices from the region. Each year, a conference was hosted by a different state. In order for the Maryland State Highway Administration's Office of Real Estate Development to pay the costs for the conference, receive registration fees and collect sponsorships, a bank account was created that Miklochik and a second SHA employee administered.
In January 2009, the second employee's name was removed from the account in anticipation of his retirement, which was to occur prior to the next time Maryland would host the conference. This left only Miklochik with access to the account.
Miklochik's criminal conduct was discovered when the soon-to-be-retired employee saw a balance sheet for the account in October 2010. Even though Maryland had not hosted the conference for several years, the account balance had dwindled to $184 from a one-time balance of over $23,000. Days after he was questioned about the missing funds, Miklochik replenished the account using money from a personal home equity loan. Further investigation revealed that from the time he had gained control of the account in January 2009 through November 2009, Miklochik wrote and cashed 35 checks to himself totaling $23,685.
Originally referred by the Maryland State Highway Administration's Office of Audits, the investigation was conducted by the Attorney General's Criminal Division and the Maryland State Police.
In making his announcement today, Attorney General Gansler thanked Assistant Attorney General Megan Davey Limarzi, Maryland State Police Cpl. Sha Brown and investigative auditor Steve Lesniewski for their work on the case.