Coeur d’Alene police are investigating a suspected long-term pattern of embezzlement by Kootenai County’s recently retired chief deputy clerk, a county employee for almost 35 years.
Kootenai County’s top elected officials announced in a news conference late Tuesday that a routine review of Sandy Martinson’s records upon her retirement last month revealed irregularities that led them to notify authorities.
The Coeur d’Alene Police Department has been investigating the situation for a month. Bonner County will handle the expected prosecution due to Martinson’s former employment with Kootenai County, said county Clerk Dan English.
English said he understands Martinson has made a statement to the police, but he doesn’t know what was said. He sat ashen-faced Tuesday with the three county commissioners in the Board of Commissioners meeting room.
“Until the discovery of this betrayal of trust, Sandy was highly respected by me, her co-workers, and the community at large,” English said. “Even the possibility that these allegations are true leaves me with a profound and deep sense of shock and violation.”
Martinson could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.
County officials did not reveal the amount of money they suspect has been stolen, saying only that the police investigation is ongoing and has been complicated by the length of employment and the number of records.
“At this point in time I don’t think we can share the figure we’re at, other than sizable,” Commissioner Rick Currie said.
The chief deputy clerk dealt regularly with all county taxing districts and worked in a supervisory role, helping oversee the five departments the clerk is responsible for, English said. When English was first appointed clerk in 1995, Martinson was already chief deputy clerk and auditing supervisor, he said. As chief deputy, Martinson served in the role of clerk whenever English was unavailable.
English said in the wake of this discovery, procedures have been changed to prevent it from recurring. He said that includes procedures related to overseeing the “District Court Clerk” account, including the number of signatures required for certain operations and the number of people who oversee the account.
English, who lost his bid for re-election in November, said incoming clerk Cliff Hayes, who takes office Jan. 10, has also been made aware of the situation.
English and the commissioners said they could not comment further due to the ongoing police investigation.
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