A former Clallam County treasurer’s cashier received a 12-year prison sentence for stealing up to $793,000 in real estate excise tax proceeds from a cash drawer over a six-year period.
Catherine Betts, 47, was found guilty of first-degree theft, money laundering and 19 charges of filing a false or fraudulent tax return following a jury trial July 27. Additionally, the jury found the theft and money laundering to be major economic offenses, allowing the court to impose a sentence above the standard range.
Scott Marlow, the assistant state attorney general prosecuting the case, recommended a 15-year sentence. Marlow noted Betts violated a position of trust repeatedly and deliberately by stealing from the cash drawer and hiding her crime by manipulating office computer spreadsheets, falsifying records and altering or destroying documents.
Betts’ defense attorneys, Loren Oakley and Harry Gasnik, requested a 90-day jail sentence, citing her previously clean criminal record and serious health problems. Betts requested her doctor write a statement listing her health problems, including diabetes, hypertension, nerve damage that makes her depend on a wheelchair for mobility, depression and a prior diagnosis of cancer, according to court documents.
Betts testified to her health problems during the Aug. 24 sentencing hearing, but did not address the court when given the opportunity before Judge S. Brooke Taylor handed down his sentence.
In addition to the 12-year prison sentence, Taylor ordered Betts to pay $597,516 in restitution to the Great American Insurance Group, the county’s insurer, and $10,000 to Clallam County to cover the deductible paid to receive reimbursement of the lost funds. She also must pay $1,000 in fees for her court-appointed attorneys, $500 in victim assessment fees and $100 in DNA collection fees.
Oakley immediately appealed the sentence, taking issue with Taylor’s decision to allow as evidence statements Betts made to co-workers, among other things. The appeal is at public expense. Taylor denied a motion to stay Betts’ sentence pending the appeal and she was transported to the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Purdy that afternoon.
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