January 13, 2011 in City

Ex-official for Kootenai County charged

Retired deputy clerk for Kootenai County accused of embezzling $139,000
By The Spokesman-Review

One count of grand theft was filed Wednesday against a former Kootenai County deputy clerk accused of embezzlement.

“A summons … for Ms. Martinson should have been issued this morning,” said Bonner County Prosecuting Attorney Louis Marshall, who filed the charges in Kootenai County 1st District Court.

Sandy Martinson, 62, is accused of embezzling $139,000 from Kootenai County over a 10-year period ending in October. She retired in November from her more than three-decade career with the county.

Bonner County authorities are handling the case because of Martinson’s employment history with Kootenai County. Marshall said a grand theft charge is appropriate when someone is suspected of stealing more than $1,000. It is punishable by up to 14 years in jail. After Martinson is served with the summons, the court has up to 21 days to set a preliminary hearing, Marshall said.

Martinson declined to comment. Her attorney, Fred Loats, did not return a call seeking comment.

Former county clerk Dan English, who was Martinson’s supervisor, said in December that when Martinson retired in November, a routine review of her records revealed irregularities that led the county to suspect embezzlement.

Martinson was also the auditing supervisor and about 80 percent of her time, English said, was spent in the auditor’s office, supervising taxation. English said among the changes that occurred upon discovery of the suspected embezzlement, was the number of signatures required to make payments from the “District Court Clerk” account.

County officials said in the wake of the discovery that a number of county accounts exist that are not subject to the annual audit because they don’t have an impact on the budget. However, Finance Director David McDowell said the account being investigated should have been part of the county’s budgeting system. That was changed immediately following Martinson’s retirement, McDowell said last month.

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