Gales Creek Camp director accused of embezzling from organization
The former executive director for a camp for kids and teens with Type 1 diabetes is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the organization.
Cheryl Rae Sheppard appeared in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Thursday, Feb. 1, and was arraigned on a multiple-count indictment connecting her to the alleged embezzlement.
Sheppard was the executive director of Gales Creek Camp. She served in that capacity for 10 years, until 2016, after camp officials allegedly discovered she had been diverting checks for about six of those years.
In all, Sheppard is charged with a total of 25 felony crimes that include allegations of aggravated first-degree theft, first-degree theft, second-degree theft and felony computer crime.
According to court documents, Sheppard was given until Feb. 5 to appear in court before a warrant was issued for her arrest. A grand jury handed down the indictment against Sheppard in January.
On Thursday, Sheppard appeared before Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge John A. Wittmayer for her arraignment. A not guilty plea was entered on her behalf. Since Sheppard agreed to appear in court and did not attempt to flee prosecution, she was booked and released from the Multnomah County Detention Center pending trial.
Sheppard is only being charged for thefts that occurred between 2015 and 2016. KOIN 6 News, however, has learned that the thefts from the camp allegedly occurred for several years prior.
Alex Stephens, the current board president for Gales Creek Camp, said the alleged thefts were discovered in 2016. He declined to comment on how the organization discover the missing money, where it was spent or how much.
Court records show that prosecutors are charging Sheppard with stealing at least $67,000 from the camp.
"We all felt violated and definitely caught off guard," Stephen said about the allegations against Sheppard. "We're happy to see that she had turned herself in and the criminal charges are proceeding."
Stephens described Gales Creek Camp as being a place where kids and teenagers can go for a week during the summer where they "learn about their disease and forget about it and be regular kids."
The camp has been in Washington County for more than 65 years, according to Stephens.
"We have been very fortunate to have built a great network of folks who provide funding," Stephens said.
He said despite the amount Sheppard is accused of stealing, it did not interrupt camp or have a financial impact on the organization.
"We have really amazing donors and families," Stephens said.
He described the allegations against Sheppard as "violating," and said that since the allegations came forward the organization has taken new steps to protect its financial accounts.
"I think the organization as a whole is stronger than we were and we're not going to stop," Stephen said.
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It can cost as little as 3 cents a day.)