A former Spokane County employee was arraigned Wednesday on charges alleging she fraudulently obtained $1.38 million from her employer by filing fictitious claims on behalf of 45 people over a decade, according to the Washington state Office of the Attorney General.
Rhonda Sue Ackerman has been charged with one count of first-degree theft, a Class B felony, in Spokane County Superior Court.
Ackerman was an employee in Spokane County’s Department of Risk Management when the alleged fraud occurred, between 2007 and 2016. An internal investigation and subsequent investigation by the Washington state auditor, as well as a criminal investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the Spokane Police Department, identified the alleged fraud. The Internal Revenue Service also conducted a criminal investigation.
The charging documents allege that Ackerman filed fake claims on behalf of 45 different claimants and requested claim payments from her office. She then allegedly directed the claimants, many of whom were relatives or friends of her son, to cash the checks and deliver the bulk of the funds back to Ackerman.
The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office referred the matter to the Attorney General’s Office because the accused and several witnesses in the case are current or former county employees, and the funds were taken from the county.
This case is being handled by the Attorney General’s Criminal Justice Division.
The Criminal Justice Division generally handles complex prosecutions in smaller counties with fewer resources, cases arising from a state agency investigation, such as the Departments of Revenue or Labor & Industries, or cases resulting from a conflict with the local prosecutor.
Assistant Attorney General Barbara Serrano is handling the case for the state.
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