Former treasurer arrested for stealing from Newberg Animal Shelter
The Newberg Animal Shelter was thrust into the spotlight last week following the arrest of one of its former board members for pilfering funds from the nonprofit's coffers.
Laura Marie Stone, 39, who served as treasurer for the organization from January 2017 until the board removed her in December 2019, faces allegations she stole more than $86,000 from the nonprofit during that time. She resigned from the board immediately after word of her alleged crimes came to light.
The charges against the Newberg woman, which include eight counts of first-degree theft and misapplication of entrusted property, were returned by a Yamhill County grand jury July 20. She was arrested July 21 and housed in the Yamhill County jail in McMinnville on $75,000 security, then posted bail and was released. She will be arraigned Aug. 21. The prosecutor assigned to the case is Deputy District Attorney Michelle Enfield.
Stone has retained Portland attorney Mark Cogan to represent her in court.
"Laura Stone has no criminal history. Laura Stone is presumed innocent. The grand jury did not hear both sides. The grand jury did not find Laura Stone guilty. Laura Stone has not had her day in court. The government has to prove a person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; that has not been done. Laura Stone asks that people not rush to judgment," Cogan said in an email interview.
Sgt. Sam Elliott of the YCSO's enforcement division explained the events that led to Stone's arrest: "The president of the board of trustees contact the sheriff's office and requested that we investigate the incident after the responsibility of treasurer was transferred from Ms. Stone to a new person. Upon a review of the financials, they discovered discrepancies, which appeared to potentially be criminal in nature."
YCSO's special investigations unit and its primary investigator in the case, Detective Will Lavish, obtained recent financial history of the organization and "developed the evidence needed for the arrest and presentation to the grand jury, which resulted in a warrant being issued," a news release from the YCSO said July 22.
Lavish, the release said, worked closely with the board members of the animal shelter in developing the case. In addition to Lavish, shelter board president Rick Lipinski, vice president Janet Floren, and board member Barbara Lipinski testified via video before the grand jury.
In charging documents, Lavish alleged that Stone had disabled the shelter's PayPal account and redirected more than $16,000 in donated funds into her own PayPal account. A further investigation of the shelter's finances discovered that Stone allegedly had stolen an additional $70,000 in cash donations and animal adoption fees from the shelter during the three-year time period.
Elliott said the investigation determined there was one transaction to PayPal in 2017, with the bulk of the transactions occurring in 2018 and 2019. Lavish obtained a grand jury subpoena for records from PayPal while conducting the investigation and PayPal supplied him with the records.
"The actions of one individual who violated the trust of the public and the Newberg Animal Shelter should not reflect on the animal shelter or their other staff (members)," Elliott said. "They were prompt in their reporting of concerns and fully cooperative with the investigation of alleged crimes."
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