Mount Angel man pleads guilty to stealing from nonprofit
The Mount Angel man accused of embezzling about $60,000 from a local nonprofit has pleaded guilty to aggravated theft.
James Byron Hall Jr., 64, was arrested in September 2017 on suspicion of stealing from the Mount Angel Community Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for local causes.
He pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two counts of first-degree aggravated theft, a class B felony, and was sentenced to two years of bench probation.
He had been accused of stealing an estimated $62,000 from the nonprofit. According to court documents he was accused of taking $20,000 or more from the foundation over the course of 2011 and 2012, and $2,000 or more in 2014.
Hall, a certified public accountant, had served as treasurer of the foundation since its inception in 1995.
As of Jan. 9, Hall's accounting license with the Oregon Board of Accountancy is shown as active on the board's website and shows no disciplinary action.
According to a charity report filed in 2016 with the Oregon Department of Justice, the foundation has about $4 million in assets. The organization raises money for local causes, including scholarships for local high school students, organizations like the Mount Angel Chamber of Commerce, and attractions like the Mount Angel Community Festhalle and the Glockenspiel restaurant.
As part of Hall's sentencing, he is ordered not to have contact with the Mount Angel Community Foundation and not to work or act in any fiduciary capacity for a nonprofit or charity.
Hall had also been accused of two counts of first-degree theft, a class C felony. Those charges were dropped with his guilty plea.
In December, Hall and his attorney made a motion to dismiss the case as part of a civil compromise. According to court records, Hall had already paid $62,000 to the Mount Angel Community Foundation to cover its injuries.
"Defendant, who immediately acknowledged his wrongdoing has returned the property he took from the Mt. Angel Community Foundation," reads a memorandum written by Hall's attorney in support of the dismissal. "Obviously, the foundation has a potential civil action against defendant, but, since it has obtained full and complete satisfaction of its injury agrees that a civil compromise is in everyone's best interest."
A Marion County Circuit Court judge denied the motion to dismiss on Dec. 18.
Lori Pavlicek, president of the nonprofit, said in September that the board first became aware of the transgressions in January 2017 and said that Hall was immediately removed from his position as treasurer.
Hall was known for giving back to the community, and was honored in 2014 with the Mount Angel Chamber of Commerce First Citizen Award for his volunteer work. An Independent article from 2014 said Hall has served on the St. Mary Catholic Church finance committee for years and assisted on the Benedictine Sisters finance committee. His wife, Marilyn Hall, was also honored with the award.
The residents who nominated them for the award said that "together they have raised a family of eight children. Mount Angel has truly benefited from the generous volunteerism of this remarkable family."
Pavlicek said in September that Hall's actions had been hard for both the nonprofit and the Mount Angel community as a whole.
"Of course our community and the foundation board is disappointed and shocked," Pavlicek said. "He's from our community and you never want to hear about something like this happening with somebody in your community."