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Susan M. Farness of Sandy pleads guilty, pays it all back and then goes to jail

FARNESSSusan M. Farness, 43, of Sandy has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $17,000 from the Sandy Youth Football organization.

Appearing Thursday, July 18, in the courtroom of Clackamas Circuit Court Judge Heather L. Karabeika, Farness pleaded guilty to one count each of two felonies, first-degree theft and identity theft. She also pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree theft, a Class A misdemeanor.

Initially, Farness had been charged with 10 counts of first-degree theft, 27 counts of identity theft and five counts of second-degree theft.

As part of the negotiated plea agreement, said Prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Michael Wu, the sentence includes 120 days in custody followed by 18 months of supervised probation. If jail officials approve, the final 60 days of her custody can be served at home wearing an ankle monitor.

She also agreed to repay the Sandy Youth Football organization $17,621.62, which is the amount with a paper trail, said group spokesperson Teresa McKinnis.

Sandy Youth Football, operated by volunteers, serves more than 150 children in grades 3-8 in the Oregon Trail School District.

There could have been another approximately $6,000 that Farness took, McKinnis said, but there is no paper trail because those transactions were in cash.

Before the hearing concluded, Cary R. Cadonau of Brownstein Rask in Portland, Farness’ attorney, handed McKinnis a check for the amount that had been proven as taken from the youth organization.

As part of the agreement, Farness also must abide by the terms of what Prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Michael Wu is calling a “financial crime package.”

Those rules prevent her from being hired for certain types of jobs without the approval of her probation officer, and she is not allowed to take any position of authority with any volunteer group.

Chris Jelinek, who was the only other signer on the Youth Football checks, spoke to Farness in court Thursday, but she did not look at him while he spoke, Wu said. Jelinek complained about how the situation had affected his reputation, because he was a victim of identity theft. Wu agreed that Jelinek became a victim every time she wrote a check to herself and signed his name to it.

But McKinnis said Jelinek was negligent, and that’s why the board fired him from his position as president of the organization. However, Jelinek did receive more than $2,500 from Farness to pay for his attorney fees.

Appearing before the judge Thursday also was McKinnis, representing the youth group and stating how Farness’ crimes had affected the kids’ sports program, especially because the group had to discontinue its scholarship program to help kids participate who come from low-income families.

McKinnis described her feelings well on that topic last spring when she told The Post that everyone in the organization was frustrated.

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

Cadonau declined to speak with media after the court appearance Thursday.

Farness, also, did not make a statement in court. She was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom Thursday morning in the custody of a sheriff’s deputy — on her way to serve day number one of her sentence.

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