ShareThis Page

Somerset Area tax collector accused of stealing more than $65K

Joe Napsha
| Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, 10:57 p.m.

A Somerset woman is accused of stealing more than $65,000 from the Somerset Area School District while collecting taxes from local businesses for the past two school years, the district attorney's office said.

Deborah June Miller, 50, allegedly turned over only $123,037 of $188,227 she collected for the business privilege and mercantile tax for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years and kept $65,189, according to the criminal complaint filed against her on Friday.

Miller collected the taxes for the school district through Laurel Mountain Tax Collections Inc. in Somerset.

She was charged on Friday with felony counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.

Miller could not be reached for comment on Monday. The telephone for Laurel Mountain Tax Collections has been disconnected.

Leanne Heiple, Somerset Area's director of finance and operations, said the school district initiated an investigation into the tax collector because it noticed a discrepancy in the business privilege and mercantile tax collections for the 2012-13 school year. The district requested documentation detailing the tax accounts and an explanation of the inconsistencies, but Laurel Mountain Tax Collections never provided the information, Heiple said.

The school district started the legal process against the tax collection business in May 2013 and has cooperated with the Somerset County District Attorney's Office and Somerset police in the investigation, Heiple said. She declined further comment.

Jason Hunter, chief of the Bureau of Investigation for the Somerset County district attorney, who filed the charges against Miller, could not be reached for comment.

The Capital Tax Collections Bureau of Somerset Township took over collections for Somerset Area on Jan. 1, according to the district's website.

Miller was arraigned before Somerset District Judge Kenneth W. Johnson and released on unsecured bond. She awaits a preliminary hearing on Sept. 30 before Johnson.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.