Bail set at $200,000 for former bookkeeper in embezzlement case

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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A judge on Friday reduced bail to $200,000 for a former bookkeeper of a Vancouver building trade magazine accused of embezzling more than $500,000 from the business.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Daniel Stahnke heard testimony from Patricia L. Long’s defense attorney, Barry Brandenburg, that while the alleged crimes were substantial, Long was not a flight risk.

“Unless there’s risk to the community and evidence of flight, there’s a presumption of release,” Brandenburg said.

Long, former bookkeeper of BuilderNews Magazine, pleaded not guilty at a Wednesday hearing to 10 counts of first-degree identity theft and one count of second-degree theft. Prosecutors allege that Long stole money from the magazine’s publisher over a course of five years.

Vancouver police launched a 10-month investigation in July 2011 after publisher Denise Curry-Rothwell alerted them to the alleged thefts. The substantial monetary loss forced the magazine, in business for 15 years to close in December, Curry-Rothwell has said.

Long was arrested at her Vancouver home on May 1.

While Brandenburg pointed out that Long wasn’t a risk to flee because she’s lived in the area for 30 years and doesn’t have a passport, Deputy Prosecutor Jeannie Bryant called the case a “major economic offense.”

“She put nine people out of work last December,” Bryant said.

Bryant said there are allegations Long stole from a previous employer. The defendant has a gambling problem, Bryant said, adding that she believes the woman is a risk to the community should she be released on bail.

Stahnke reduced bail from $500,000 to $200,000, citing the fact Long has no criminal history and no record of bail-jumping.

Trial was set for July 16.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts;www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker;laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.