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Ex-Legal aid official admits theft

A former financial officer for the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau admitted in court that he stole more than $1 million from the nonprofit organization, Maryland federal prosecutors said.

Benjamin Louis "Bennie" King, 58, of Gwynn Oak, who worked as chief of finance for the organization from 1978 to January 2008, pleaded guilty to theft in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Prosecutors said King participated in a ten-year scheme to inflate invoices for office supplies, then stole the excess money.

"Bennie King abused his position of trust for over a decade and stole more than $1 million though a longstanding fraud scheme," U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement. "What makes the case even more offensive is that the $1 million would have paid for legal services for the poor."

Prosecutors said that around 1997 King hatched a plan with another man who opened a business that sold paper, envelopes and other supplies to the legal aid bureau.

The men skimmed more than $1.1 million between 2004 and 2007, prosecutors said. The store owner, Wendell Jackson, 59, of Westminster, who owned the paper business, also has pleaded guilty in the scheme.

The bureau, which is funded through federal grants and private donations, provides legal services to people around the state who can not afford to hire attorneys in civil matters.
-- Maria Glod

By Maria Glod  |  September 2, 2010; 4:01 PM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Maria Glod  
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