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January 9, 2014

County officials charged with theft

Darrell Reed and Diane Donnell used county funds for personal use.

Two Howard County officials were fired and are facing felony charges after being accused of using county funds to buy tools and personal items.

Darrell S. Reed, 52, county maintenance supervisor, and his secretary, Diane L. Donnell, 60, turned themselves in to the Howard County Sheriff Department Wednesday after arrest warrants alleging official misconduct and theft were issued.

A probable cause affidavit accused Reed and Donnell of carrying out the theft over the past several years.

Reed is accused of buying several household items, including duct tape, tools, a generator, a rototiller and drywall material, with county funds.

When questioned, he admitted to the purchases and said he knew he was stealing.

“Yeah, I guess, I, you know, I guess I didn’t look at it that way, but yeah, you know, I guess,” the affidavit quoted him as saying.

Donnell is accused of purchasing a Carhartt sandstone men’s jacket and painting products using a Howard County credit card, according to the charging information.

When questioned about the purchases, Reed said Donnell bought the jacket from Rural King. Donnell also is accused of buying painting products from Menards and charging the purchase to the county’s account.

Donnell told investigators she bought the paint for a house she owns on South Purdum Street and admitted to charging the purchases on the county’s account. She added, “I guess I thought I could.”

She also admitted to buying a chainsaw “a couple of years ago” and buying gallons of oil and oil filters to change the oil in her personal vehicles using county funds.

In addition, Donnell said Reed knew of the purchases and never told her to stop.

The illegal purchases were brought to the attention of the sheriff department by the auditor’s office, the probable cause stated.

Warrants were issued Wednesday out of Howard Superior Court 2. Reed faces three counts of theft and official misconduct, all Class D felonies, while Donnell faces two counts of each.

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