Monday, November 29, 2021
Nov. 29, 2021

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Evergreen Public Schools union’s ex-treasurer sentenced in $70,000 theft

Woman pleads guilty to stealing from group

By , Columbian staff writer

The former treasurer of an Evergreen Public Schools employees union was sentenced Tuesday to six months for stealing $70,000 from the union’s bank account last year.

Jeana Wright-Smith, 42, pleaded guilty to first-degree theft in Clark County Superior Court.

Judge Derek Vanderwood granted the agreed-upon sentencing recommendation of six months, which was above the standard range. Court records show she is scheduled to serve one month in jail, one month on a work crew and four months of electronic home confinement.

Wright-Smith’s court-appointed attorney, Michele Michalek, said that Wright-Smith is sorry for what she did.

“It was a stupid thing,” Michalek told the judge. “It started out as an accident, and when it didn’t have ramifications, that sort of went from there.”

Wright-Smith said she’s looking forward to making amends and getting a new job to move forward with her life. She also told the judge she’s sought counseling.

Wright-Smith was elected treasurer of the Public School Employees Union of Washington, Evergreen Public Schools chapter, in June 2019. From February 2020 through the beginning of December 2020, Wright-Smith charged and took the money from the union’s bank account, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Officers interviewed the union chapter’s president, Sandy Forst, and secretary, Jammie Evans, at the Vancouver Police Department West Precinct on an unspecified date about the theft. Forst had previously reported that tens of thousands of dollars were stolen from the chapter’s account, the affidavit says.

Forst told police the union is a nonprofit and typically doesn’t keep more than $50,000 in the account, which is used for giving out scholarships to students in need, and for training and conventions for union members. Because of a freeze on spending due to COVID-19, the account was up to more than $70,000, according to the affidavit.

The union’s leadership holds monthly meetings, during which finances are discussed, and Wright-Smith would prepare presentations but never showed the board of directors actual bank statements, court records say.

Wright-Smith, the president and the secretary were the only people with debit cards tied to the account, according to the affidavit.

The board decided to use some of the funds for gift cards to help its members with the holidays, and Forst purchased $6,000 in cards. When she called Wright-Smith to be reimbursed, Wright-Smith said it wouldn’t be possible, according to the affidavit.

“It was at this time that Jeana told Sandy that she was sorry for what she had done and that she would be resigning from her position as union treasurer,” the affidavit reads.

Forst began examining the account and found there to be numerous withdrawals at various casinos and stores, and it appeared Wright-Smith paid her own credit card bills and made deposits into her bank account using the union’s money, according to the affidavit.