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Joan Monnier facing 14 counts of various felony and misdemeanor charges for alleged actions discovered in 2012

A former treasurer of two local organizations who was first arrested on suspicions of theft in 2012 has been formally indicted by a Marion County grand jury.

According to Lisa Ellsworth, acting vice president of one of the organizations, the Woodburn chapter of Business and Professional Women (BPW), the grand jury convened July 2 and — after hearing from representatives of both groups — returned an indictment for Joan Monnier, 78, of Woodburn.

Court records show Monnier was assessed a mix of 14 felony and misdemeanor charges: four counts of first-degree theft, a class C felony; three counts of second-degree theft and seven counts of misapplication of entrusted property — both class A misdemeanors.

In May 2012, Monnier was serving as the treasurer of both the BPW and the Chemeketa Center for Learning in Retirement (CCLR). She was arrested May 7 of that year, after the two organizations reported missing funds and other discrepancies in their bank statements.

BPW representatives later confirmed that five students who were awarded $500 scholarships over a two-year period never received their money.

Overall, more than $8,000 in BPW funds was reported missing, but because the alleged thefts occurred over a seven-year period, less than half the total is potentially recoverable due to statutes of limitations.

“We can only go after about $3,500,” Ellsworth said last week. “There’s a big discrepancy between what we were allowed to claim based on statutes of limitations and what we were really out.”

She said the indictment took so long to be handed down because of the sheer volume of the financial records that had to be analyzed, from both the organizations and Monnier — whose bank records were obtained through a subpoena.

“The district attorney wanted to make sure and look through all the records and give her the benefit of the doubt as much as possible,”?Ellsworth said of the delay. “There were, literally, hundreds and hundreds of checks that had to be gone through. These types of white-collar crimes just take a long time to gather the evidence and go to trial.”

In the meantime, the local BPW has been devastated, Ellsworth said.

“The organization has gone dormant while going through this process,” she said, before going on to allege, of Monnier: “She left us with less than $20.”

In addition to the financial crimes Monnier is alleged to have committed against BPW, Ellsworth also claimed that she, as treasurer, failed to file necessary paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service and, consequently, the group lost its nonprofit status.

“We’ve got one member continuing to pay (Department of Justice) dues to keep us active, so if we do collect funds (from the court case against Monnier), we can be re-established,”?Ellsworth said.

If BPW is successful in recovering the alleged missing funds, Ellsworth said the group would want to use the money to honor the scholarships it had been unable to pay in 2012 — even though some of the students have since graduated.

“We all agreed that it would be a nice gesture,” she said. “Whether they’re still in school, and it helps them buy their books this year, or they’ve already graduated — regardless, they earned those scholarships and we would like to see them have them.”

While Ellsworth spoke more openly of the alleged misuse of BPW finances, Beverlee Koutny, director of CCLR, declined to discuss the impact to her organization.

Though she did express her belief that the district attorney’s office has been “very diligent”?in investigating the matter, and her hope that the case could reach a negotiated settlement without going to trial, she said she thought further comment would be premature.

“It’s just a little bit early,”?she said. “It hasn’t been resolved yet, and I?don’t want to say anything that would upset the apple cart.”

Ellsworth said her organization has not been in direct contact with Monnier since her 2012 arrest.

“She sent us a note when this first happened, but we have not been in contact with her,” she said. “We felt it best to go through the legal system.”

According to Marion County court records, Monnier’s arraignment had originally been set for July 18, but has since been rescheduled for 9:30 a.m. Aug. 8.

Tyler Francke covers all things Woodburn. He can be reached at [email protected] com or 503-765-1195.

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