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Sandy woman accused of embezzling

Susan M. Farness of Sandy is suspected of taking $23,000 from youth sports program


by: CLACKAMAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE - Susan M. FarnessA Clackamas County grand jury has indicted Susan M. Farness, 42, of Sandy on 42 counts of first- and second-degree theft and identity theft.

She was arrested April 4 and booked into the Clackamas County Jail. Her arraignment is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2, in Clackamas County Circuit Court.

Charges

The charges stem from an accusation of embezzling about $23,000 from the Sandy Youth Football League, said Sandy Police Detective Jason Bickle.

Farness was treasurer of the youth sports league for about 18 months, from January 2011 to July 2012, when the league’s board asked her to resign. Also fired (in July 2012) from his position as president of the board was Chris Jelinek, who was the only other person authorized to sign league checks.

Prior to the July 2012 emergency board meeting, when the two were asked to leave their positions, Sandy Youth Football received a notice from one of its equipment vendors that there was an outstanding bill of more than $7,000 from 2011.

But in 2012, the organization’s bank account was nearly empty, said Youth Football Board Co-president Teresa McKinnis.

'She wrote checks in her name, and signed them.'

Teresa McKinnis, co-president of the Sandy Youth Football board, speaking about Susan M. FarnessThat was the notice the board needed to understand that mismanagement of funds had occurred.

“There was funds available to pay the bill (that wasn’t paid) back in 2011,” McKinnis said, “but (Farness) had been making withdrawals, depleting the account by April 2012 to $11.26.”

Law enforcement

Sandy Police officers were called in, and that nearly yearlong investigation resulted in the recent grand jury indictment.

Farness bailed out of jail, with a payment of $7,500 the same day she turned herself in on the warrant from the grand jury’s indictment, said Deputy District Attorney Michael Wu, who is prosecuting this case.

“Until the arraignment, not much information will be made public,” Wu said. “Because this is an active case, we’re not going to be divulging information right now — only what is stated in open court.”

Board’s accusations

McKinnis said there is at least $17,000 that has a paper trail and is accountable in this case. The other approximately $6,000 was not as accountable because they were cash transactions.

“Those funds were dispersed by (Farness) from the checking account for Sandy Youth Football,” McKinnis said. “Each of the 42 counts was a separate alleged disbursement to her from our account. The funds were withdrawn for her personal use.”

McKinnis, who was selected as spokesperson for the board on this issue, said Farness’ duties as treasurer were to pay bills, balance the checkbook and submit financial records to the board each month.

“But the financial status wasn’t brought forward at the board meetings,” McKinnis said. “The treasurer and the board president are the two signers on the account. (Farness) was supposed to pay the vendors during the season.”

Among those vendor expenses were football equipment, portable toilets and food for concessions.

“(Farness) had total control of the checkbook, with (Board President Jelinek),” McKinnis said.

The board considered Jelinek negligent in his (oversight) duties as president, she said, but no criminal charges against him have been filed.

When the information about unpaid bills and a depleted account balance was brought to the board and the two check signers were confronted, McKinnis said Jelinek had nothing to say.

“(Farness) said, ‘I’m sorry, but I did nothing wrong,’ ” McKinnis reported on what happened at the confrontation. “There was no other explanation on where the funds went, or anything.”

That’s when McKinnis and then vice-president Nate Rotzien began to sort through the issues and the checks and the bank statements and the invoices.

The allegations against Farness, McKinnis said, include her hiding information from Jelinek in order to get his signature on checks, but the investigation and court procedures will ferret that out. McKinnis said she is only speculating what must have happened.

“The identity theft charges against (Farness) are clearly forgeries,” McKinnis said. “She signed his name to some checks.”

The checks in question were written directly to Farness, which McKinnis said shouldn’t happen. There were few items Farness might have purchased for the football league that required reimbursement. Most of the checks Farness should have been writing would have been to vendors.

“She wrote checks in her name,” McKinnis said, “and signed them.”

To make the point clear, McKinnis said board members and coaches serve on a volunteer basis, without any stipend or salary.

Moving forward

Of course, the people affected the most are the young athletes who want to play football in an organized league.

McKinnis is appealing to local residents who might be inclined to assist the league after it reorganizes its financial protocols.

“(Farness) is innocent until proven guilty,” McKinnis said. “There’s a court process we have to go through. But we have a balance outstanding to a vendor, and we would appreciate any kind of donation from anyone willing to help us out.

“We are having a season, and we are requiring that payment be made with registration, but those fees to play football are only for current expenses. We still have an outstanding debt.”

And that means there are no scholarships available for low-income families, McKinnis said. There were none last year, also.

“This has been frustrating for all of us,” she said. “We’re all volunteers, and our goal is to help teach the game fundamentals and sportsmanship to the kids. It’s frustrating that this has happened to our organization; it’s just selfish.”

For more information or to offer help to the league, contact McKinnis by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-803-1523.