Ex-government employee admits stealing thousands from account she managed

Friday, January 20, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Centralia woman April Kelley is allowed to leave the courtroom free on her personal recognizance after pleading guilty to first-degree theft.

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

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19 Responses to “Ex-government employee admits stealing thousands from account she managed”

  1. Michael says:

    She broke the law and s be punished just like anyone else w tjat isnt a gov employee..she new what she was doing and new it was wrong.

  2. Compassion says:

    Wyatt you should be ashamed of yourself, yes her children will be “deeply effect.” She will miss so much in their lives. Her family, especially children, do not need to be spoken of like that, nor does her husband’s job need to be brought up. She will be sentenced fairly. The PA is asking for an EXCEPTIONAL sentence of 10 years, so obviously his job is not jeopardizing her trial being fair. First time offender waivers can be the outcomes for many criminals regardless of their

  3. Exceptionally Normal says:

    Yeah, it’s not like social service agencies are exactly rolling in dough when it comes to resources available to aid those truly in need, and on the margins of society. I’m sure neither her or her family have been missing any meals.

  4. Sharon B. says:

    Up to 10 years without their mother? Uh, yeah that might leave a mark! More than just material things, they will be affected by this. From what I understand they are grade school age. I hope justice is served fairly, but also hope for a strong support system for the family left to pick up the pieces. Those poor kiddos 🙁 I too am intrigued by where the money could have gone.

  5. Exceptionally Normal says:

    Gee, I’m always hearing on the local media, about how this area is blessed to be populated by salt-of-the-earth stalwart people of ” impeccable reputation ” within the community. Then every couple of months – there’s yet another case of embezzlement being perpetrated by one of these stalwart leading lights of the community.

    Type the words employee theft or embezzlement in the search window and see how many hits you get. It’s a subject that’s generated as much ink as the middle-aged guys wrecking their Harley Davidsons. Hmm, I wonder if there’s any connection?

  6. The Greatest Man To Ever Walk says:

    They need to make an example of her.

  7. Really? says:

    Wow I won’t be shocked when she gets the minimum of 0 to 90 days for this. Her husband works for the Wa DOC…so

  8. Wyatt says:

    Is she on drugs? How could you spend that much money? Id like that explored during the sentencing phase.

  9. Wyatt says:

    Deeply effected,… lol. No more all inclusive vacations and rolexes under the christmas tree,…. so sad.

  10. Joe Damion says:

    She has two young kids who will be deeply affected by this for the rest of their lives, not just while she is serving her sentence. Prayers for them and her husband.

  11. BobbyinLC says:

    Been there depending on the facility she is sent to she can still all of those things in prison.

  12. BleeBloo says:

    She needs to do some prison time, after all if she hadn’t gotten caught she would still be stealing. I wonder how many of her supporters were recipients of her ill-gotten gains.

  13. citizen dick says:

    i think that’s what she already did.

  14. beenthere says:

    Can you imagine whats going on in this girls head right now, knowing she could be sentenced from zero days to ten years. If I was her I would be drinking, eating, having sex and spending as much time as I could with the ones I love. It may be a long time before she gets the chance to do those things again.

  15. Peabody Slim says:

    New York City? Get a rope!

  16. Friend says:

    Prayers April

  17. Sherman says:

    Lewis County never learns. Two signatures required on every check, and other basic fiduciary safeguards should be standard in regards to both accounts receivable and payable. Why did such a young person have this much responsibility? Where was her oversight? Why can’t we fund our Senior Centers? Lewis County Commissioners, the buck stops with you!

  18. BobbyinLC says:

    Zero to 90 days? No way. 10 Years a bit strong. 3-5 years seems more appropriate. It is a serious offense and was a violation of her public trust.
    Restitution? If she had to steal money in the first place how is she going to pay it back?

    Seems like yet another situation of one person in charge of public funds with no oversight.

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