Cindy Howe appeared in court in Astoria Monday morning, following more than a year of allegations, investigations and looming consequences after the near collapse of the Sunset Empire Transportation District.

The former executive director, who now resides in Georgia, appeared before Judge Phil Nelson in Clatsop County Circuit Court Monday morning, with attorney Steve Roman at her side.

Howe is charged with 10 counts of first-degree theft and four counts of official misconduct. A secret grand jury indictment was opened as a result of today’s proceedings.

“This case is the result of a year-long investigation conducted primarily by agents of the Oregon Department of Justice, at my request,” District Attorney Josh Marquis said.

“Four of those counts are for allegations that she received amounts varying between approximately $2,000 and $4,000 a year from 2007 to 2010 for a cruise which was the result of apparently the bus district buying advertising in the amount of tens-of-thousands of dollars from New Northwest Broadcasters.”

Six additional counts are for six six-month periods during which Howe allegedly provided bus service for St. Mary, Star of the Sea school.

“‘Donated’ isn’t the right word because she didn’t have the right to do that. But she gave free bus service in the amounts that range from $2,000 to $3,000, where she was a volunteer and her child attended,” Marquis explained.

Seemingly somber, Howe sat quietly, only responding to questions from the judge of her address and phone number.

A resolution conference is scheduled for July 11.

Read the full story in The Daily Astorian

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