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Former Northumberland Chief of Probation for Charged with Theft

James Cortelyou charged for stealing $31K from house arrest funds between 2014-2016

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that the former Northumberland County Chief of Adult Probation has been arrested for allegedly stealing $31,530 from the Screen Shot 2019-06-28 at 15.35.55Northumberland County Probation House Arrest funds while he was Chief from 2014-2016. James Cortelyou, 41, of Herndon, was charged with Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition, Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds Received, Receiving Stolen Property, and related charges.

“The defendant was a public official entrusted to oversee county funds with integrity and accountability,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Instead, he is accused of changing established procedures to make it easier to steal from the taxpayers and enrich himself. My Office is committed to investigating and prosecuting anyone who abuses their position of power—without fear or favor.”

This case was referred to the Office of Attorney General by the Northumberland County District Attorney’s Office. Witnesses reported that, on his first day as Chief of Probation in June 2014, Cortelyou immediately started asking about the processes for counting payments and deposits for the House Arrest Account. Soon after, Cortelyou allegedly changed the procedure so that he had sole control over the fund. In August 2015, two witnesses reported that they discovered irregularities in the fund and brought them to the Chief’s attention. He allegedly told them not to say anything to anyone, but did not address the concerns. The witnesses notified the President Judge who then terminated Cortelyou in February 2016. A subsequent audit of the House Arrest Program found that $31,530 was missing from deposits to the fund from June 2014-February 2016.

Cortelyou is the second public official charged by the Office of Attorney General for stealing from Northumberland County during the same time period. In March 2019, former Northumberland County Prothonotary Justin Dunkelberger was arrested for stealing $30,000 from a public funds account. Dunkelberg pleaded guilty in June and paid back the funds.

Cortelyou was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Michael Toomey in Northumberland County and released on bail. Senior Deputy Attorney General Nicole Forzato is prosecuting the case. All charges discussed are accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.