Doneia A. Santiago is represented by private defense attorney Don Blair in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Court documents in the case of the Mossyrock official arrested for theft from the city accounts indicate Clerk-Treasurer Doneia A. Santiago approached the mayor to tell him her husband inadvertently used the city credit card to make an approximately $3,600 payment to Central Mortgage.
Charging documents state Mayor Tom Meade questioned two ATM withdrawals during May for $100 and $200 by Santiago and then use of the city bank card to purchase fuel for her personal vehicle.
The total loss going back to January 2014 is $7,730.45, according to prosecutors.
The mayor and the police chief met a week ago about the issue. Santiago has been placed on administrative leave.
She was arrested yesterday afternoon and booked into the Lewis County Jail. The 53-year-old Salkum woman was charged today in Lewis County Superior Court with first-degree theft.
She was handcuffed and outfitted in green jail garb when she appeared before a judge. Santiago is represented by Centralia attorney Don Blair.
The afternoon hearing focused on how much bail she should be required to post to be released pending a trial.
Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm asked for $10,000, saying she was concerned Santiago and her husband might leave the country.
Blair told the judge his client is a lifelong Lewis County resident who’s lived at her current address at least nine years and had no intention of traveling anywhere. He indicated frustration with his attempts late last week to contact the police chief so she could turn herself in.
Judge Richard Brosey decided she could be released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.
The community of some 750 people employs just a very small number of people at city hall. Santiago worked as the city clerk and city treasurer.
The most recent year for which documents were readily available shows the city took in revenues of approximately $762,000 in 2014. The mayor hasn’t yet responded to requests for comment.
The Morton Police Department, which handles law enforcement services for the small central Lewis County city, conducted the investigation.
First-degree theft involves amounts in excess of $5,000.
Charging documents include the following information and allegations:
Santiago told the mayor the accidental payment on May 19 to the mortgage company was done by her husband and she wanted to repay the city. Police Chief Roger Morningstar contacted Security State Bank and was told Santiago’s explanation was incorrect, as the transaction was of the type requiring account and routing numbers to be manually entered into a computer system.
Santiago later said she didn’t have the $3,657.24 to pay back.
She also said the ATM withdrawals were her way of reimbursing herself for purchases she had made for the city. The mayor said the transactions were not permitted.
Mayor Meade also had concerns about the city’s Shell credit card and Santiago told him there were only about $600 of charges over the previous three years.
The police chief requested a copy of a video from the Mossy Mini from June 15, showing Santiago using the city card to buy fuel for her own vehicle.
The police chief obtained statements from Shell and found $1,448.48 in unauthorized transactions between January 2014 and February 2015. They also showed $2,626.73 from June 2015 to June 2016.
Santiago’s arraignment is scheduled for the morning of July 7.
For background, read “Mossyrock city official jailed for alleged theft” from Monday June 27, 2016, here