By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The now-former social services manager for Lewis County acknowledged today she stole more than $100,000 from a bank account she was responsible for as treasurer.
April K. Kelley, 35, was arrested and charged in September after an investigation conducted by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The Centralia woman has remained out of jail on $20,000 bail.
She went before a judge today in Lewis County Superior Court, with more than a dozen supporters seated in the benches behind her.
Kelley pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree theft, committed over a less than four-year period ending in the spring of 2014. Six counts of forgery were dropped in a plea agreement struck with the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.
Kelley worked at the Lewis County Department of Public Health & Social Services, and in that capacity, served as treasurer for the Association of County Human Services. The money was discovered missing when a new treasurer took over.
Lewis County Superior Court Judge Andrew Toybnee asked Kelley if she understood the elements of the crime, the maximum penalty, if she had any questions and pointed out a box of kleenex as she sniffled.
“Do you understand what the prosecutor will be recommending?” Toynbee asked. “Yes,” Kelley responded.
Each of the counts carries aggravating factors with Kelley admitting to committing a major economic offense and using her position of trust and fiduciary responsibility to carry out the crimes.
Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said he plans to ask for a 10 year sentence.
She was allowed to leave court today, on her personal recognizance and return on Feb. 8 for that hearing. Meyer said he will be asking that day she be taken directly into custody.
The prosecutor has tallied up a bit more than $196,000 in restitution that Kelley will be responsible for. About $28,000 of that is for an audit fee and $5,000 for expert accountant fees.
At one point the defendant realized the association didn’t have enough funds to cover amounts due and got money from a family member to prevent detection of the losses, according to Meyer. The approximately $49,000 she deposited will reduce the restitution amount, he said.
Defense attorney Shane O’Rourke said he wasn’t prepared to speak about how much time he will recommend for his client, as he wants the judge to hear it from him first.
However, the standard sentencing range for the offense is 22 to 29 months in prison, he said. And under the law, an option for a first time offender is zero to 90 days in jail, he said.
For background, read “News brief: Former treasurer set to plead guilty in theft case” from Thursday January 12, 2017, here