UPDATED: Former Walla Walla County undersheriff charged with embezzlement


Updated with statement from Lepiane's attorney.

WALLA WALLA — Former Walla Walla County Undersheriff Carole Lepiane has been charged in federal court with embezzling funds from the Sheriff’s Office.

According to information filed in U.S. District Court in Spokane, Lepiane allegedly stole more than $67,000 in funds between early 2004 and mid-2009. The charge of one count of theft from a federally funded local agency was filed Sept. 19 by Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

Despite the charge being filed Sept. 19, FBI Supervising Senior Agent Frank Harrill said last week he had “no new public information” to release on the case.

Lepiane is scheduled to appear in federal court in Spokane Thursday for a change of plea hearing, according to online court records. She pleaded innocent on Sept. 26 at her initial appearance in federal court in Yakima and was released on her own recognizance.

“Carole Lepiane is very sorry for the trouble she has caused her family, her former employer and Walla Walla County. She hopes to make amends,” her lawyer, Michael de Grasse, said in a statement issued Monday.

Her husband, College Place Police Chief Dennis Lepiane, said Monday that he had no comment on the case and referred questions de Grasse.

The criminal charge stems from an investigation that began in October 2009 when then-Sheriff Mike Humphreys requested the Washington State Patrol look into possible financial improprieties in the sheriff’s office. Along with the WSP and the state Auditor’s Office, the FBI also became involved last year.

According to the information filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Carole Lepiane used her position to embezzle cash funds that were posted for inmates’ bail. The thefts occurred between approximately February 2004 to June of 2009.

The scheme involved Lepiane using checks the Sheriff’s Office received from Evercom, the company that operated the phone system used by jail inmates. As part of the contract with Evercom, the jail received checks from the company on a monthly basis for the county’s share of the profits from inmate phone calls.

“When Evercom checks would arrive in the mail at the jail, the jail captain hand delivered the checks to the (Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office) and gave the checks to Lepiane or left them in her box,” the criminal information stated. “The Evercom checks should have been deposited into the WWCSO Depository bank account.”

“The funds from the Evercom checks should have been transferred to the Inmate Welfare Fund maintained by the (county) Treasurer, since the funds were generated by inmates. Lepiane was responsible for depositing the Evercom checks into the sheriff’s account,” the charging document said.

Instead, federal officials charge that Lepiane took money from cash posted for defendants charged in Superior and District courts that was brought to the Sheriff’s Office by a jail employee and would insert an Evercom check into the deposit for the amount of cash bail stolen in order to hide the theft of funds.

“As a result, the Evercom checks were not deposited in the WWCSO Depository account and were not contributed to the Inmate Welfare Fund,” the charging document said. “Using this scheme, Lepiane embezzled approximately $67,145.63 from Walla Walla County.”

The thefts occurred on at least 50 occasions between February 2004 and June of 2009, according to the charging document. Lepiane “used the stolen funds to make numerous cash deposits into her personal bank account and also pay for personal online shopping purchases.”



ImJustSayin says...

Turner bashers.... Have anything to say?

Posted 8 October 2012, 5:12 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

What does this have to do with Mr. Turner or the current admin @ the WWSO? Or did I miss something?
This happened on Mr. Humphreys watch, and they took the appropriate action's. I dont see a need to bring politics into this mess.

Posted 8 October 2012, 5:38 p.m. Suggest removal

ImJustSayin says...

Come on Barra, everytime the UB put out one of those "still nothing from the Sheriff office regarding the investigation" stories.....they came out of the wood work blaming Turner for something or another.

Posted 8 October 2012, 5:52 p.m. Suggest removal

pamray@charter.net says...

That simply isn't true!

Posted 12 October 2012, 5:22 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

(full discloser) I dont care for Mr. Turners Admin. That said..... He does not deserve to get blame or receive credit for someone/something that is not due. No politics!

Posted 8 October 2012, 6:11 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

And yes, I didnt care for the UB's handeling of this case....

Posted 8 October 2012, 6:12 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Well all I can say is it's about time and with the way politics are surrounding this time of year I must say that Ms Lepiane will probably be hired by the Obama Administration to bring in some fresh ideas :)

Posted 8 October 2012, 7:03 p.m. Suggest removal

miriam1967 says...

It is sad for her and her family, and those that love her. And I guess the whole community, as we expect better from those that are sworn to protect and serve. Just proves that all the criminals at the Walla Walla County jail are not just the ones that are locked up.......................and why is she not a "guest" at the WWCJ???? Now that IS sad............

Posted 8 October 2012, 10:03 p.m. Suggest removal

Ron says...

Is this the first public notification of charges having been filed against Mrs Lepiane? Considering how long this investigation's been under way I'd think that the UB would have a reporter digging into this a little more aggressively. What's her status - is she currently free on bail?

Posted 9 October 2012, 8:30 a.m. Suggest removal

cedarheaven says...

What surprised me the most is the fact that she isn't IN THE JAIL herself. I see nothing about bail or OR? What is the real deal?

Posted 9 October 2012, 8:54 a.m. Suggest removal

commonsense says...

The money she allegedly stole and all the money spent investigating, hiring her replacement, etc would have helped the budget problems in the sheriff's office big time. They need to make sure to change the system of oversights so this cannot be allowed to happen again.

Posted 9 October 2012, 9:38 a.m. Suggest removal

grammaphyllis says...

Info from the Tri-City Herald and a phone call to the Federal Court in Spokane.
Charged with one count. Released on her own recognizance. Will appear in Federal Court in Spokane on Thursday at 1:30 P.M. to change her plea to guilty.
Case number 2:2012-cr-06054-FVS USA vs Carol J. Lepiane
A quick reimbursement of the stolen funds could help out the Sheriff's office and might reduce any sentence she could receive. The Authorities deserve a loud
Thank You for unraveling this series of thefts. I personally thought it would
never be solved, in spite of the Union-Bulletin's dogged appeal to get the facts.
One question not answered yet: Did she earn a pension for her work as a
Public Servant? If so, does she continue to get it for life?

Posted 9 October 2012, 2:27 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

Her state retirement and this crime is two different things. They cannot be tied together. Retirement is through the state, not a local system.
Also.... Ever think that she might be in poor health? And maybe, if putting her into custody would make us taxpayers pay for her daily maintainance? Maybe we dont want her there after all!
Also, maybe the length of the investigation was because they were looking into the poss. there might be others involved, and that they had rule whether or not to charge others...
Lets let the system work!

Posted 9 October 2012, 4:58 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

When does it make a difference if a pension or retirement comes out of the local system or the state - it is all taxpayer money. I wished some people would get off this sympathy trip for criminals. I don't care if it's illegals or thieves or legal employees gone bad. An illegal act is a criminal offense and does not deserve any type of sympathy or pity!

Posted 9 October 2012, 6:31 p.m. Suggest removal

DeadDawg says...

The thief could have saved taxpayers "untold amounts of money" by confessing three yrs ago. Saying 'oopsie, I am sorry' just doesn't work for me. I certainly hope that the UB investigates to see if 'checks and balances' have been put in place to prevent further 'kiting'. I also wonder what the investigation cost taxpayers and would appreciate knowing a number.

Posted 10 October 2012, 11:38 p.m. Suggest removal

PeggyJoy says...

I believe in punishment, that fits the crime. Instead of destroying this woman's life by sentencing her to prison, she should continue working without pay until the $67,000 is replaced. That would be a fair and reasonable punishment.


Posted 11 February 2013, 4:53 p.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

The money had been paid back @ the time of sentencing.

Posted 11 February 2013, 6:44 p.m. Suggest removal

Log in to comment