Maryland County Teachers Union Probed for Missing Funds

By Carl Horowitz, National Legal and Policy Center

If an embezzler returns money to its proper owner, that doesn’t erase the fact of the embezzlement. Authorities in Worcester County, Maryland have been operating on that principle since late January, when they initiated a probe of the temporary disappearance of more than $100,000 belonging to the Worcester County Teachers Association (WCTA). Evidence points to a former union treasurer, Denise Tull, as the most likely culprit. While Tull hasn’t been charged with any offense, prosecutors believe an allegation of “misappropriated funds” contained in the association’s 2011 tax filing will reveal the truth. “We have a potential crime that has gone unreported, at least to law enforcement,” said Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby at the time. “There’s going to be a complete and thorough investigation.”

Worcester County occupies the easternmost area of Maryland. Its main community, Ocean City, in recent decades has become a huge summer draw for beachgoers in the Atlantic region. But with a year-round population now exceeding 50,000, many of them children, the county has a large school system. And apparently not everyone working in it is immune to corruption. The Worcester County Teachers Association, an affiliate of the Maryland State Education Association (and indirectly, the National Education Association), in an IRS tax return dated March 13, 2011, documented $111,589 in “misappropriated funds.” The association noted that this amount was pending verification via audit by a bonding company. The union’s previous tax returns had been filed in August 2008, and reflected finances of the 2005-06 school year.

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