Trial ordered in grand theft case

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SANDPOINT — A Sagle woman was ordered Wednesday to stand trial in 1st District Court for allegedly embezzling thousands of dollars from her former employer.

Samantha Sue Wasylko is charged with grand theft, a felony. She’s accused of pocketing cash receipts at Pend Oreille Midwifery while employed as the Sandpoint birthing clinic’s office manager in 2015.

The business’s corporate secretary testified during a preliminary hearing in Bonner County Magistrate Court that the company’s accountant discovered “irregularities” in late 2015 and Wasylko was asked about them.

“She had stated that she had lost a cash portion of a deposit somehow,” Paul Weil told Judge Justin Julian.

A meeting was set up with the accountant and Wasylko, but she did not attend it because she was under the weather, Weil testified. Wasylko never returned to work.

Further scrutiny of the company’s financial records showed that Wasylko took a number of cash payments from clinic patients, but didn’t include them in when she deposited the other clinic’s receipts, according to a probable cause affidavit. Wasylko is further accused of using her access to the clinic’s accounting software to delete notations of the cash receipts.

“It appeared there was a cover-up,” Weil testified.

More than $10,000 in cash payments were received and never deposited, court documents indicate.

Cross examination by Wasylko’s defense counsel, Sandpoint attorney Jeremy Featherston, largely revolved around who had access to office computers and the accounting software, in addition to password storage and whether a data-entry session would time out due to inactivity.

Weil testified that he didn’t know who set up the user accounts, but said users would have to re-enter their log-in credentials if engagement with the program had ceased after a period of time.

“No one knew Samantha’s password,” Weil told the court.

Wasylko, 42, invoked her right to remain silent during the hearing.

Featherston argued there was a “glaring difficulty” with the testimony in that there was no way to tell if someone else had used his client’s log-in credentials to make changes. Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Roger Hanlon countered that the testimony indicated that Wasylko was the only person in the small office who handled financial transactions.

“It’s a little bit of leap of faith there that she did it,” Julian said, noting that there was no eyewitness testimony and no testimony on how money was stored in the office before it was taken to the bank.

However, Julian found there was sufficient evidence to justify a trial due to the limited number of people who work in the office and have software access.

Wasylko, formerly known as Samantha Jeffres, is free on her own recognizance while the case is pending. She is scheduled to be arraigned on Aug. 20.

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

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