The treasurer of a now-inactive campaign committee for a late delegate has pleaded guilty to theft from the account.
Ronald Chesek, who was campaign treasurer for Friends of Joseph J. Minnick, pleaded guilty in Anne Arundel Circuit Court to a felony theft scheme between $10,000 and $100,000.
“Sonny” Minnick was a Democrat who represented Baltimore County in the House of Delegates from 1988 to 1990 and then again from 1995 to January 2015. He died later that year.
Chesek was accused of writing unauthorized checks from the campaign bank account to cover his personal expenses from July 9, 2013, to Sept. 17, 2017. The Office of the State Prosecutor, which brought the case, said Chesek stole approximately $13,045.
He was sentenced Friday to three years incarceration, which was suspended, and 18 months probation. Chesek also must complete 150 hours of community service. Before his court appearance Chesek had paid back the $13,045 to the committee.
“Mr. Chesek, as the duly appointed Treasurer for the Friends of Joseph J. Minnick, betrayed the trust that the campaign committee and the public placed in him. Misuse or theft of campaign funds by those in a position of trust simply cannot be tolerated,” State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt wrote in a news release.
Campaign committees in Maryland can remain open long after an elected official or candidate dies. State law does not explicitly address how to handle committee balances if a candidate dies, but does allow surplus funds to be distributed back to contributors or to other entities including central committees, the Fair Campaign Financing Fund, and education-related or charitable organizations.
Minnick’s campaign finance account remains open, but inactive, with Chesek filing a report in October detailing close-out payments made to charities in the region.