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Saturday, October 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Former city of Sprague employee pleads guilty to attempted theft, agrees to pay back thousands of tax dollars

UPDATED: Thu., July 11, 2019, 8:43 p.m.

A man accused of misspending tax dollars while working for the city of Sprague avoided a felony conviction and pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of second-degree attempted theft, a gross misdemeanor.

Shawn R. Melton, 46, who worked for the city’s public works department, was sentenced to 30 days of home detention and electronic monitoring.

Lincoln County Superior Court Judge John Strohmaier also ordered Melton to pay $8,475 in restitution up front. Melton and his wife, Christie E. Melton, 41, who was the city’s clerk-treasurer, will be jointly responsible for another $7,400, according to court records.

Shawn and Christie Melton were accused of misappropriating thousands of tax dollars over several years through fraudulent paychecks and purchases of personal items, including beer, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, energy drinks and fuel for personal vehicles.

State auditors and a Lincoln County sheriff’s detective followed up on a tip and began investigating Shawn Melton in June 2018, shortly after he and Christie Melton left their jobs. At the time, she was Christie Saucier. The couple married during the investigation.

Christie Melton was charged with money laundering and first-degree theft in late April, about a month after the state auditor’s office published a report on the alleged thefts. Her case is ongoing.

As clerk-treasurer, she was responsible for approving employees’ time sheets, paychecks and travel reimbursements – including her own, according to the auditors’ report.

A message left with Sprague City Hall was not returned on Thursday.

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