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City Employee Arrested for Embezzlement

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COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. — A City of Cottage Grove employee accused of embezzling nearly $13,000 worth of funds made her first appearance in court Thursday.

The Cottage Grove city manager says the money was taken out between June 2011 and January of this year. Taken out in relatively small amounts in a number of separate instances, it didn’t come to the city’s attention until a utility customer confronted city workers with questions about his bill.

An initial look into the matter had staff members thinking it was just a computer programming error. But investigators say it was soon discovered that long-time employee Sheila Smith somehow took advantage of a weakness in the city’s financial computer software.

While the nine-month investigation is done, staff members say they’re still working to regain the public’s trust.

“We’re hoping we can show that, hey, everything we’ve done is to make sure that we have the strongest case we possibly can to hold the person responsible and accountable for what they did and that that’s not acceptable, and we’re going to show that it’s not,” said Richard Meyers, City Manager.

Police arrested 44-year-old Smith on Wednesday, and she made her first court appearance Thursday. She’s expected back in court on Nov. 14 unless a resolution is reached before then.

Smith is facing 12 felony counts of theft one. She’s expected to be back in court on Nov. 14, unless a resolution is reached before then.

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