Woman is accused of embezzlement

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SANDPOINT — A Washington state woman is accused of embezzling money from her former employer in order to feed a gambling addiction, according to court documents.

Pamela Ann McGrath is charged with grand theft, burglary and forgery. She made an initial appearance in Bonner County Magistrate Court on Friday, where Judge Lori Meulenberg appointed a public defender to represent her, records show.

McGrath committed the crimes late last year and early this year, a criminal complaint alleges. She is accused of forging coworkers’ signatures in order to cash checks on an account belonging to Sandpoint Title Insurance, where she had been employed as an escrow officer.

McGrath, 52, allegedly attempted to cover her tracks by manipulating Sandpoint Title’s accounting system, according to Sandpoint Police reports. One of the fraudulent checks, made out for $1,873, was cashed at a Ponderay bank last December. Another attempt was made to cash a $986, although a hold was placed on those funds, the police reports said.

McGrath sent a message to the company’s president indicating on Jan. 4 she was traveling to western Washington to help a family member. Conspicuously absent from McGrath’s desk at the time was her notary stamp and personal photographs, the reports said.

McGrath was confronted at her former residence in Ponderay and she confessed to the wrongdoing, which she described as an aberration. She told a detective she developed a gambling addiction to cope with the death of her parents about 10 years ago, the reports said. McGrath also admitted passing on a forged check to another person and said the extent of the thefts exceeded $2,000 and may have been as high as $5,000, the report said.

McGrath, who now lives in Spokane, is free on her own recognizance.

A preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to warrant trying McGrath in 1st District Court is set for Feb. 14.

McGrath has no prior criminal record in Idaho, according to the state supreme court data repository.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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