Animal shelter treasurer pleads guilty to embezzling funds
The Newberg woman accused of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from a local nonprofit has admitted in court to her crime.
Laura Marie Stone, 40, former treasurer and board member of the Newberg Animal Shelter Friends (NASF), pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree aggravated theft on Feb. 5 in Yamhill County Circuit Court.
Judge John Collins sentenced Stone to 90 days in jail and ordered her to pay $87,256 in restitution to the shelter. She was also sentenced to five years of probation, not to have contact with the shelter or assume fiduciary duties at another organization. If she violates probation, Collins ruled, she will be returned to jail for two years.
Five counts of first-degree theft and one count of misapplication of entrusted property were dismissed as part of the plea agreement between Stone's counsel, Portland attorney Mark Cogan, and prosecutor Michelle Enfield of the district attorney's office.
Under state sentencing guidelines and had her case gone to trial, Stone could have been sentenced to 10 years in prison on each count of first-degree aggravated theft and be ordered to pay $200,000 to $250,000 on each count.
Stone and Cogan declined to comment for this story.
Stone, who served as treasurer of the Newberg Animal Shelter from January 2017 until the organization's board of directors removed her in December 2019, ran into trouble when allegations surfaced that she stole more than $86,000 from the nonprofit during her nearly two-year tenure. She resigned from the board immediately after word of her alleged misdeeds came to light.
Stone was arrested and briefly jailed in July after a Yamhill County grand jury returned numerous charges against her.
Events leading to arrest
Sgt. Sam Elliott of the Yamhill County Sheriff Office's enforcement division explained the events that led to Stone's arrest: "The president of the board of trustees contacted 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 release from YCSO said.
Lavish worked with NASF board members in developing the case; shelter board president Rick Lipinski, vice-president Janet Floren and board member Barbara Lipinski testified via video before the grand jury.
Following his investigation, 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.
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