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Former longtime Columbia County employee Linda Hald will serve a 30-month prison sentence for embezzling more than $650,000 from the county over a 16-year span while working for the Community Justice Department.

“Due to her position and a lack of significant oversight, she was able to systematically steal a significant amount of money from the county,” John Tseng, prosecutor for the State of Oregon told Columbia County District Court Judge Ted Grove. “In doing so, she violated the trust of the people of the county and betrayed her oath to serve the community with honor and integrity.”

Tseng acknowledged that Hald had tried to make as much restitution as she could. (Hald paid back $95,000 in restitution and compensatory fines, according to county commissioner Alex Tardiff), making the sentence of 30 months in prison and two years’s probation an appropriate punishment, according to an account of the sentencing the St. Helens Chronicle.

Michael Staropoli, Hald’s lawyer, also noted Hald’s effort to refund some of the money and said his client had dealt with health and personal problems over the last 15 years.

County officials testified that they had determined that Hald stole in excess of $650,000 from 1999 to 2015 – the year she retired after a 30-year career. Coupled with the costs of accounting and other fees, the loss was $726,000, not counting county staff time. The county’s insurer covered nearly $470,000 of the loss.

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