Longtime employee accused of stealing $585K from Columbia County - KPTV - FOX 12

Longtime employee accused of stealing $585K from Columbia County

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Linda Hald, jail booking photo Linda Hald, jail booking photo
Columbia County, OR (KPTV) -

A longtime employee of Columbia County is accused of stealing nearly $600,000 from a county department before her retirement, according to investigators.

Linda Hald was arraigned in court Monday on charges including aggravated theft, tampering with public records, official misconduct and attempted theft.

Investigators said financial irregularities were found in an account associated with the supervision of offenders on parole or probation following Hald's retirement in June 2015. Hald served as office manager in the community justice department-adult division.

A forensic audit led to the discovery of $585,574 in lost funds over a 17-year period.

In addition to supervision fees, investigators said some DUII diversion funds were also taken.

County managers reported the possible criminal activity to law enforcement. Oregon State Police launched an investigation and Hald was indicted by a grand jury on Oct. 20.

"Columbia County's financial management is strong," said Tony Hyde, County Chair. "This instance occurred in just one department. The county has been victimized, and I regret this unfortunate incident but am satisfied that the county has responded appropriately."

Columbia County filed insurance claims on its policies and has successfully recovered $543,139 of the loss from insurance proceeds. The county will seek restitution of any stolen funds.

While located in the justice facility, the department of community justice is not overseen by the Columbia County Sheriff and is not connected to the sheriff's budget or connected to operation of the county jail.

Since the investigation began, the community justice department has implemented improved cash handling procedures and safeguards to ensure that fees are fully accounted for and applied to parole and probation supervision.

Hald was a county employee for 30 years. She pleaded not guilty.

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