A former Ashland bookkeeper accused of embezzling more than $100,000 from a local business over five years has pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree aggravated theft and one count of first-degree theft.
Marcella L. Arrington, 46, of the 900 block of Bellview Avenue, entered the pleas Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court to avoid going to jury trial. She was sentenced to two years of supervised probation, during which she can no longer work as a bookkeeper, and will have to pay a yet undetermined amount of restitution.
Arrington has paid back $13,000 so far to Ashland-based Body Support Systems Inc., said Jerry Fuller, its production manager. She agreed to pay the money to avoid time in jail as part of her plea agreement, said Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert.
Fuller said Arrington owes the business $126,000, but the state of Oregon, plaintiff in the case, has not yet filed an order of restitution determining the nature and amount of economic damages.
Arrington's Medford-based attorney, Gregory M. Abel, said the state has 90 days to file the order. Abel will review it with Arrington and decide whether to agree or ask for a hearing.
Judge Lorenzo Mejia dismissed four additional counts of first-degree theft Arrington faced after she agreed to change her pleas to guilty on the other charges, court records show.
The company's vice president, Marni Owens, and owner Thomas Owens, of Hawaii, declined to comment.
The owners and Fuller became suspicious of Arrington in 2011 and alerted police, who conducted a 10-month investigation before handing over evidence to the district attorney's office, authorities said. On June 20, 2012, a Jackson County grand jury indicted Arrington on five counts of first-degree aggravated theft and five counts of first-degree theft.
When the allegations surfaced, Fuller, the business owners and Ashland Police Department investigators said it was possible Arrington stole more than $100,000 from the business, but the statute of limitations on such crimes expires after five years, ruling out the possibility of investigating deeper into her more than 10-year career with the company.
Arrington's crimes occurred between Jan. 1, 2007, and June 11, 2011, court records show.
Body Support Systems makes specialized support cushions used in massage, physical therapy, chiropractic care and other medical settings at its facility on Benson Way.
Sam Wheeler is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.