Ex-bookkeeper steals thousands of dollars from Washington Rural Electric Cooperative

A former bookkeeper is facing prison time for stealing thousands of dollars from a lobbying organization.

Sheila Chapman, 63, is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 1 at Thurston County Superior Court after a continuance was approved Monday by Judge Anne Hirsch.

Chapman has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $65,000 from the Washington Rural Electric Cooperative Association, according to court documents. The association consists of rural electric companies that pay dues. As an independent contractor, Chapman did the books for both the WRECA and a related political action committee account.

From January 2010 through April 2012, Chapman wrote at least 74 checks to herself between the two accounts, and often cashed the checks at Walmart in Lacey, according to documents. Along with concealing her activity, she also paid personal bills online by using the business account, documents show.

In April 2014, Chapman pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree identity theft and 24 counts of forgery. Chapman’s sentencing was delayed so that she could attend her daughter’s wedding, according to documents. Chapman faces 43-57 months in prison.

The WRECA’s general manager stated in court documents that $65,000 stolen by Chapman was roughly 20 percent of the association’s total budget. The association has since recovered the money through insurance, and is seeking restitution.