Former Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare business manager Shauna Phillips was found guilty of embezzling funds from the nonprofit agency.
Clatsop County Circuit Court Judge Phil Nelson, in a verdict issued by letter today, ruled Phillips was guilty of eight counts of first-degree theft, two counts of second-degree theft and one count of third-degree theft for stealing more than $13,200 from CBH in 1999 and 2000.
Sentencing will be scheduled later. First-degree theft is a Class C felony that could bring up to five years in prison, but under the sentencing guidelines for Phillips' case, the maximum penalty she probably faces is 30 days in jail, according to Deputy District Attorney Mark Lang.
Phillips was accused of embezzling from the agency over most of her two-year tenure by using credit cards issued to CBH to buy groceries, electronics and a trip to California for her family. Monthly charges for personal items ranged from $11.99 for a compact disc to $3,771 for goods that included a $2,235 computer.
In his six-page verdict, Nelson rejected Phillips' contention that the purchases were approved by her boss, former executive director Charles Lamecrow. Lamecrow, who testified at Phillips' two-day trial last week, denied ever making any such arrangement.
"I find it hard to believe that an experienced business manager who has had prior experience as a comptroller and financial manager would even consider such an arrangement in the first place," he wrote.
At her trial, Phillips produced copies of calendars she said she used to keep track of her extra working hours, and the purchases she made to compensate herself for those hours. Nelson noted that those records contained many errors or omissions for items she supposedly bought in exchange for her extra work.
Other current and former CBH staff testified they never saw any of those supposed records. Phillips testified she told no one else about her alleged arrangement with Lamecrow.
"Defendant may have worked more than a 40-hour week and felt she was entitled to be compensated. However, an employee does not unilaterally charge items to her employer or take other self-help remedies to compensate herself when she feels she is being under paid," Nelson wrote. "There are remedies available or she can find another employer. The self-help remedy she chose are crimes."
Nelson noted that Phillips herself drafted policies that required CBH staff to get prior approval from their supervisors before using comp time.
Nelson said "perhaps the most telling point" was the testimony of former CBH board member Mary Ann Murk, who said she questioned some of the credit card purchases when she signed checks for the agency.
"Defendant and Ms. Murk were friends. If there was the arrangement defendant alleges, that would have been the time to explain it to a board member," he wrote.
Nelson noted he did not include the charges Phillips made for her husband and two children to accompany her on a business trip to California. Lamecrow and Murk testified they were aware of the charges but believed Phillips was following agency policy and would reimburse CBH for the costs, which included airfare and hotel accommodations.