Former Spokane County employee pleads guilty to stealing $1.38 million in county cash
Nov. 1 – A former Spokane County employee accused of stealing $1.38 million from the county pleaded guilty to theft on Monday.
Rhonda Sue Ackerman, 53, worked for the Spokane County Risk Management Department when she defrauded the county between 2007 and 2016. She had worked in the county since 2001.
Ackerman’s family and former colleagues were present at the plea hearing on Monday.
Attorney Bryan Raymon, representing Ackerman, said there were plans to release her on home supervision before the holidays, so she could spend time with her family.
Additionally, Ackerman pleaded guilty to another count of first-degree larceny, first-degree trafficking in stolen property, and third-degree larceny. The standard range of sentences for first degree theft is three to nine months.
According to the Washington state attorney general’s office, Ackerman filed bogus claims on behalf of 45 different plaintiffs and requested claim payments from his office. She ordered the claimants, who included her grandmother, her deceased father, her daughter-in-law, family friends and her son’s friends, to cash the checks and return most of the funds to her.
The Spokane County District Attorney’s Office referred the case to the Attorney General because the money was taken from the county and because Ackerman and several witnesses were former or current county employees.
The fraud first became public in March 2019 when Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said her office discovered discrepancies in August 2018. According to an affidavit, an internal review in 2018 uncovered checks not cashed.
Ackerman was fired in May 2018 for “abandoning work after her employer learned that she attended a mud weekend with her husband, even though she claimed to have been seriously ill for a week,” said the attorney general’s office.
The county recovered the stolen $1.38 million through an insurance policy, except for $25,000 and $20,000 for an independent audit, county spokesman Jared Webley said.
The county also implemented new policies around its risk management department in 2019, which included a “documented monthly review of all voucher requests and credit card payments for the previous month,” among other checks. .
Ackerman was incarcerated in the Spokane County Jail on September 23.