Former employees accused of embezzling

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A former manager of The Academy and her boyfriend are accused of embezzling more than $75,000 from the company, which rents out the historic former girls school as a special event venue.

Mignon “Yvette” Payne, 58, and Douglas M. Ramirez, 61, both of Vancouver, appeared in Clark County Superior Court Thursday on suspicion of 17 counts of money laundering, 17 counts of first-degree identity theft, six counts of first-degree theft and 11 counts of second-degree theft.

Judge Suzan Clark ordered them each jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail and appointed attorneys Katie Kauffman of Vancouver Defenders and Brandy Jeffers to defend Payne and Ramirez, respectively.

They are scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Oct. 16.

Payne, The Academy’s former manager, is accused of renting out space in the venue and asking customers to write checks out to “Academy Events” instead of the company’s names, which include “The Academy” and “Northwest Academy,” according to a court affidavit by Vancouver police Detective Jane Easter. The checks written out to “Academy Events” were then deposited into Ramirez’s bank account, the affidavit says.

Meanwhile, she didn’t inform the owners of The Academy about all of the events that were held at the venue, Easter wrote.

Ramirez founded a business and obtained a business license for “Academy Events,” Easter wrote.

Payne was hired in 2011. Her boyfriend, Ramirez, was hired shortly after that to work in The Academy’s maintenance department.

The Academy’s owners, Oliver and William Hidden, hired forensic accountant Tiffany Couch to investigate Payne because they suspected she was keeping some of the company’s rental money, according to the affidavit. The information was then handed over to Vancouver police, which obtained a search warrant for Ramirez’s bank account.