Who owes the most (and least) through York County?

David Weissman
  • York Clerk of Courts Office responsible for collecting $133 million in costs, fines and restitution.
  • 68 people owe more than $100,000 but have, in total, paid back less than 4 percent to date.
  • Amounts owed range from a penny to more than $750,000, with cases dating back to 1975.

York County Clerk of Courts Don O'Shell keeps a list of thousands of names — people who owe anywhere from a penny to more than half a million dollars for crimes dating back 40 years.

There are only two ways to get off the list: Pay up, or die.

Collection Restitution Specialist Sarah Mayberry, takes notes while talking to a client, during her shift Wednesday Dec. 14, 2016, at the Clerk of Courts office in the Judicial Center. Amanda J. Cain photo

The office is the county's primary collector of court costs, fines and restitution, and those collectible assets  add up to more than $133 million.

Details regarding who owes that money is on the county's website in a 2,225-page report labeled "Accounts Receivable."

York Clerk of Courts collections drop in 2016

O'Shell said he compiles that report from data kept by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) and tends to update and post it monthly.

O'Shell said everything included in the report is public information, and he hopes it serves as a deterrent to those who would commit crimes.

York County Clerk of Courts Don O'Shell

"These people owe taxpayers and need to make it whole," he said. "For people committing crimes, you should know your life becomes an open book."

The report notes about $90.75 million in costs and fines that can be collected, which would be distributed to the county, state, municipalities or prothonotary. The other nearly $42.5 million is in restitution, which would be distributed to crime victims.

The amounts that people owe for each case range from one cent — which 11 people owe — all the way to $750,920.88. Money is still owed from cases dating as far back as 1975, though the majority are from the past 10 years.

Sixty-eight people  owe more than $100,000, which O'Shell noted mostly includes restitution-based cases.

Those 68 cases totaled more than $18.7 million originally owed, and just less than $800,000, or about 4 percent, of that amount has been paid, the report shows.

Among those highest debtors are several whose cases made local headlines (all figures according to the report):

  • Tammi L. Alabdullah, of Elizabethtown in Lancaster County, owes the most, with more than $750,000. She has paid $25 since negotiating a guilty plea in April 2015. Alabdullah had plead guilty to one county of first-degree felony theft after Fairview Township police said she stole and pawned off more than a half-million dollars worth of jewelry from a Lewisberry-area woman who had hired Alabdullah as her home caregiver. She was sentenced to 11½ to 23 months in York County Prison, according to online court records.
  • Mark David Frankel, a now-disbarred but formerly high-profile attorney, owes more than $660,000 after paying nearly $316,000 since being convicted in November 2006 of 57 counts of theft and one count of misapplication of entrusted property. The state Attorney General's Office said he stole about $1.1 million of his clients' settlement money. Frankel was sentenced to four years of intensive probation, with the first 23 months and 20 days in York County Prison, followed by 10 years of probation.
  • Vickie L. Glatfelter, York County's former assistant chief clerk, owes more than $305,000 after paying nearly $42,000 since negotiating a guilty plea in June 2011. Glatfelter was employed by the county for 27 years until she was fired after the District Attorney's office began investigating and ultimately charging her with embezzling postage refunds from the county totaling $347,000 over a seven-year period. York County's insurance company paid it more than $247,000 because of the thefts.
  • Steven D. Gebhart, an Abbottstown-area contractor, and Holly Kile, his former employee, owe about $156,000 and $190,500, respectively, from convictions in November 2010. Combined, they have paid  less than $2,600. Gebhart and Kile were convicted at the same trial of theft by deception and being part of a corrupt organization after police said they swindled numerous customers.
  • Frank Powers Pittenturf Jr., of Hanover, owes more than $225,000 and has paid less than $70 since pleading no contest in January 2011. Hanover Police said Pittenturf torched a vacant building at 20-22 York St. He was sentenced three to six years in state prison, plus three years of probation, according to court records.
  • Karl Breeden, the former chief financial officer at a West Manchester Township business, owes nearly $340,000 after paying almost $40,000 since being convicted in August 2012. Breeden was convicted of forgery, theft by deception, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property after police said he embezzled an estimated $377,000 from AIS, where he worked for about nine years. AIS was forced to lay off 51 employees, and some workers were forced to take salary reductions because of Breeden's "escalating scheme" to cook the books, a company spokesman said at the time of the conviction.

A few other interesting notes from the report:

  • O'Shell said a large majority of the cases involve people who live in-state. He guessed that 20 percent at most were out-of-state. Those cases are more quickly sent to collection agencies, he said.
  • When the Clerk of Courts office is able to verify that a person who owes money has died, the amount is zeroed out and no longer included in the report, O'Shell said. A separate report compiled through the AOPC shows that nearly $5 million has been removed from the accounts-receivable list since January 2011 because of deaths, including three cases where the deceased  owed more than $100,000.
  • The oldest case included in the report is that of Warner E. Batty, who owes more than $10,000 after pleading guilty in December 1975. Batty has paid just $7 from the case, the report shows.
  • A total of 272 cases involving people who owe $5 or less are included in the report. O'Shell said if the amount owed is under a certain amount, his office won't send overdue notices, though they might be referred to a collections agency. 

Note: Upon reviewing the lengthy report, The York Dispatch found several cases where no amount owed was listed. O'Shell was notified and found that some listed as responsible participants were actually crime victims or witnesses and erroneously listed on the report. He submitted a request to AOPC to fix this issue, but this would not affect any numbers listed in this article.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.