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Accused book-taker on unpaid leave from law library

Last week, my colleague Mari A. Schaefer wrote about the Montco Law Library bookeeper arrested for allegedly buying more than $2,500 worth of textbooks for her daughter on the taxpayers' dime.

Today, county officials confirmed that Barbara Melnyk, 55, of Norristown, is on unpaid leave while the case against her proceeds. At 11 a.m. Friday, she is scheduled to appear before Magisterial District Judge Margaret Hunsicker for her preliminary hearing.

Melnyk was arrested at the courthouse Friday morning.  She's charged with theft, receiving stolen property, conspiracy, misuse of government funds and related charges, according to court records.

County Controller Stewart Greenleaf began auditing the law library after noticing irregularities, and subsequently referred the case to the District Attorney's Office.

The D.A. said Melnyk purchased textbooks on from 2010 to 2012, and sent the bills totaling $2,598.37 to the law library.

But according to Greenleaf, the misuse of funds went far beyond Melnyk's textbooks.  In a press release Friday, Greenleaf says the total misappropriation exceeded $30,000, including electronic devices, a dorm-room refrigerator.

The Law Library is funded by the county, but up until this year it was overseen by an independent Law Library Committee that "relied too heavily on the library staff and the substandard reports issued by the external auditors it hired," Greenleaf said.  In January, the county put the library under the control of the Court Administrator.