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Ritchie County woman facing multiple embezzlement charges

PULLMAN — A Ritchie County woman was arrested earlier this month for racking up thousands of dollars worth of items and personal checks at the expense of her employer.

In August, the Office of the State Auditor sent a letter to Ritchie County law enforcement after finding multiple discrepancies against Rhonda Kaye Ireland, 45, 1523 Holbrook Road, Pullman, in her position of administrative assistant at a local business, according to a criminal complaint filed with the Ritchie County Magistrate Court.

In her position, Ireland was responsible for managing funds and writing checks out of the business account. She had a total of 50 occurrences of using the company debit card to shop and nine occurrences in which she wrote duplicate checks to herself in 2016 through 2019, according to the complaint.

Last February, Ritchie County Sheriff T.M. Snodgrass received a complaint reporting missing funds from the business’ checking account which resulted in the state audit, the complaint said.

In 2019, Ireland used the company’s debit card 17 times at stores like Walmart, Sam’s Club and Kohls, with 17 such occurrences in 2017 and 16 in 2016, the complaint said. It listed items she purchased, including toiletries, housewares, food, baby items and a Canon camera lens.

Investigation revealed the debit card in question “was assigned and utilized solely by Rhonda Ireland,” the complaint said.

A check was made out to Ritchie County Middle School for more than $2,800 intended for “National Junior Honor Society Donation/Trip,” the complaint said. Per the company’s protocol, checks over $500 have to have prior approval from the board of directors.

“Investigation revealed that this particular expenditure was not previously approved. It was learned through investigation that this trip was taken on May 25 through May 27, 2016, to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and a family member of Rhonda Ireland was a participant,” the complaint said.

On four separate occasions, Ireland wrote herself payroll checks out of the business account. For the months of July through August of 2019, Ireland wrote a second check depicting a second payroll payment per month, the complaint said.

Ireland overpaid herself a total of $2,175 and all “checks were signed and endorsed by Rhonda Ireland,” the complaint said.

Similarly, in August and September of 2019, Ireland wrote herself two monthly checks in the amount of $407.57 for “medical/retirement,” the complaint said.

Checks were written depicting second payments and she was overpaid $1,222, according to the complaint.

Ireland is facing six embezzlement charges.

Candice Black can be reached at cblack@newsandsentinel.com.

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