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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

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