Posted in the Sitka Forum
#1 Aug 4, 2010
LOCAL NEWS Wednesday, August 04, 2010
$25,000 could keep embezzler out of prison
Pamella Tremain, convicted of embezzlement, will serve 30 days in jail if she pays restitution
By JOE GAMM
The Daily Astorian
The Astoria woman who embezzled $54,000 from a local nonprofit will serve only 30 days in jail if she comes up with $25,000 in restitution for her victim by Wednesday.
She will only face prison if she fails to pay the balance of the entire $73,000 restitution.
The grandparents of Ron Tremain, of Astoria, have pledged to come up with the money before Wednesday, if his wife Pamella Anne Tremain, 28, of Astoria can avoid a prison sentence. Whether or not she receives a prison sentence, she will spend a minimum of 30 days in Clatsop County Jail.
She was scheduled to be sentenced to 19 months in prison Friday, but a last-minute change delayed (and possibly reduced) her sentence.
Pamella Tremain was the office manager of the Oregon Fishermen's Cable Committee (OFCC)- an association of trawl fishermen who have signed agreements with fiber optic cable companies to protect the integrity of the fiber optic network. The OFCC compensates the fishermen, who have agreed to abandon and sacrifice trawl gear that gets caught on the underwater cables.
She pleaded guilty Feb. 9 to two counts of first-degree aggravated theft, a felony, for stealing from the nonprofit over the course of a year from the summer of 2006 to summer 2007, and putting the money in the couple's joint account. Ron Tremain was not charged in the crime.
Prosecution was looking for restitution exceeding $73,000 - some of which was for an investigation the committee was forced to undertake.
Circuit Court Judge Philip Nelson warned Pamella Tremain she would spend 19 months in prison before accepting her pleas during that Feb. 9 hearing.
But her situation changed at her sentencing hearing Friday.
Tremain's sentence has been postponed until 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, after receipt of the money. After hearing arguments for altering Tremain's sentence, Nelson ordered her housed at the Clatsop County Jail pending Wednesday's decision.
Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis told the court that nine days after Tremain entered the pleas, her Astoria attorney, Mary Ann Murk, called his office and told him that she'd been in contact with the victim. The victim indicated that if some significant restitution were made they would accept reduced charges or sentence for the defendant.
"The victim came to us and begged us to agree to a sentence that guaranteed them some significant restitution and spared her prison, at this time," Marquis said. "The victims came to us and basically begged us to change the resolution because of their circumstances."
OFCC Chairman Scott McMullen said $25,000 that was stolen came out of a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The agency has asked for its money back.
"Part of the money was for a specific project," he said. "NOAA can't say 'that's fine.'"
McMullen said the thefts hurt OFCC's bottom line.
"It does (affect OFCC), but we're survivors," he said.
He said if the committee doesn't get the $25,000 there would be cuts in its budget to come up with the funds to repay NOAA. And the organization is willing to wait and see if the money comes through.
"We need it to be real, not,'The check's in the mail,'" McMullen said.
Nelson said there have been several cases within the past few years when the Clatsop County Circuit Courts have sent people to prison for similar crimes.
"I don't think it sends the right message that if you get caught and come in with a big check, you get away with it," Nelson said.
Marquis said the nature of the victim made this a most unusual circumstance - they're a nonprofit with the feds coming after their money.
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