>Convicted of multiple crimes, the 61-year-old woman is told by the judge to repay the money she stole and to get counseling for her gambling habit
Almost a year to the day of her arrest, a local real estate agent was convicted in circuit court yesterday on charges she stole money from a business account to pay for her gambling habit. In February, 2000, Katherine Puckett, who was 60 at the time, was taken into custody following a three-month investigation by the Prineville Police Department. Puckett, president of the Crook County Multiple Listing Group, was accused of collecting dues payments from real estate agents and cashed the checks. Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown said that it took two signatures to cash the checks, and in doing so, Puckett simply forged the second signature. Originally it was believed that about $4,500 had been taken from the account over a period of six to eight months. During the two-day trial it was shown that only about half that amount actually was taken. It took the jury only about 20 minutes to find Puckett guilty of theft I, first degree forgery, two counts of second degree theft and two counts of second degree forgery. “She had forged 21 checks made out to either herself or cash,” Brown said, “and was pumping the money into video poker machines. Brown said the woman’s defense was that she had planned to pay back the money ... “but she never did.” Puckett told the jury that since her arrest she has been working at Rimrock Trails. Brown said she claimed to be involved with “some kind of self-help program to deal with her gambling. We hear that all the time, someone telling the judge he’s been going to AA and hasn’t touched a drink since his last DUII.” They jury didn’t accept that, Brown added. Brown believes Judge Gary Thompson gave Puckett an “extremely light sentence: 18 months probation, make restitution, 240 hours of community service and no gambling. He encouraged her to get counseling for her gambling and is not to be employed where she handles other people’s money. If it was you or I, we wouldn’t have walked out of the court room.”
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