READING, Pa. - Federal charges were filed Tuesday against former Berks County Recorder of Deeds Ellie Antoine, and one county commissioner said Wednesday it's about time.
Antoine left the recorder of deeds office four years ago, and Commissioner Mark Scott said officials were tipped off about the allegations in April 2007, prompting the county to begin looking into the office.
"Somehow, cash that should have been in deposits that was in the drawer at the time of the close of business didn't make it into the bank account," said Scott.
The U.S. Department of Justice said auditors determined Antoine embezzled more than $150,000 between 2004 and 2007.
"This all took place at the changing of the guard. Miss Antoine had left the end of December, and we bounced on this in January," said Scott, adding that the county spent $54,000 on a forensic auditor, who put the case together. "This wasn't like the feds got an anonymous tip and they did all the work. They got this handed to them pretty much on a platter by the county."
Scott said the district attorney worked closely with the feds to see charges filed against Antoine, but he wondered what was taking so long since the county and state's reports were completed in June 2008.
"I asked the district attorney every time I saw him," said Scott. "We were frustrated by the amount of time that passed, and we were becoming concerned that perhaps nothing would come of this when every indication, from our perspective, something should come of it."
Antoine's attorney, James Polyak, issued a statement saying: "She discharged her official duties with fidelity and honesty and has committed no crime. She looks forward to being found not guilty at trial."
"I'm happy at least something has transpired here that will bring this matter to a conclusion, either a guilty or innocent verdict," said Scott.
If found guilty, Antoine could face years in prison and more than a million dollars in fines.
Allentown, PA 18102