Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chamber employee charged with embezzlement

Woman accused of stealing gift certificates

Express Staff Writer

Sheena M. Stevens

A 22-year-old Bellevue woman has been charged with felony embezzlement for allegedly stealing more than $1,000 worth of gift certificates from the Ketchum-Sun Valley Chamber & Visitors Bureau.

Sheena M. Stevens, a former chamber employee, was charged on Dec. 5 in Blaine County Magistrate Court with grand theft by embezzlement. She was later released from the Blaine County Jail on $3,000 bond. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Dec. 18.

The Ketchum Police Department declined to say how much was stolen, but police spokeswoman Kim Rogers described it as a "large amount" in the "thousands."

Rogers said Stevens was apprehended after she redeemed some of the certificates for clothing at a Ketchum retail store. She said police initiated their investigation on Dec. 4.

Stefany Mahoney, the chamber's director of members and visitors services, said Tuesday that Stevens had worked for the chamber for about three weeks and has now been terminated.

Mahoney said the stolen certificates, referred to more properly as "Chamber Choice Gift Certificates," come in $25 denominations and are available for purchase at the chamber's visitor center. She said the certificates are typically purchased as gifts and are redeemable at many participating merchants throughout the Wood River Valley.

Despite the theft, Mahoney said merchants do not need to be concerned.

"It's unfortunate, but we did catch it very quickly," Mahoney said. "We do want to assure all the merchants that if they have accepted those coupons that we will still honor them."

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