Housekeeper Pleads Guilty; Sentenced In Theft Scheme

An Easton woman charged with stealing nearly $30,000 worth of items from homes she cleaned pleaded guilty to theft scheme of more than $500. Talbot County Circuit Court Judge Broughton Earnest sentenced Laurie Beth Bradley, 47, to five years in jail with all suspended except six months and five years supervised probation. He said he would recommend work release. She also was ordered to pay $29,565 in restitution, have no further contact with the five victims and receive drug counseling.

Bradley was charged in February with six counts of theft more than $500 and one count of theft scheme more than $500 for allegedly taking items valued at a total of $34,637 from six households in Easton and St. Michaels between May and December 2008. Charges were filed after a couple Bradley worked for as a housekeeper discovered missing silver and confronted her. She first denied the allegations, then admitted it and asked for the chance to make restitution, said Henry Dove, chief trial counsel for the Talbot County State’s Attorney Office. The homeowners decided not to call police, but changed their minds after they heard other families had the same problems. Between December 29 and January 5, 2009, police talked to six homeowners who accused Bradley of stealing, though only five turned out to be victims. Police also interviewed Donald N. Trice, a precious metal broker in Denton, who dealt with Bradley and gave police six of her pawn records that totaled $2,399.

Many of the items pawned through Trice matched the description of the stolen items. Trice told police Bradley said she got the flatware from her grandmother and from estate and yard sales. Police also got records from Jim Price at Delmarva Jewelers for items pawned there by Bradley. Bradley admitted to the thefts during a meeting with the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office. She was cooperative and said she had keys and alarm codes to several of the homes where she allegedly stole and had worked for some employers for three and four years, Dove said.

In court Monday, she apologized to the people from whom she stole and admitted she is addicted to heroin, an addiction that resurfaced when her husband died in 2004, she said. Her attorney, Shannon McClellan with the Office of the Public Defender, said she thought Bradley did not mean to harm anyone and needed to get help for her drug addiction. No one else testified, though letters were submitted by the victims and Bradley’s counselors. She is currently receiving treatment at a half-way house in Salisbury, where McClellan said it seems there are more treatment resources than in Talbot County.