Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fairfield woman admits to embezzling

Police claim defendant stole $35,000 from Farm Bureau


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

A former secretary for the Blaine-Camas Farm Bureau office in Bellevue admitted in court Monday to embezzling from the company over a four-year period. The Blaine County Sheriff's Office claims that Judith G. Shurtz, a 59-year-old Fairfield resident, embezzled more than $35,000 between 2006 and 2010.

Shurtz, who has remained free on $5,000 bond, admitted to a single count of grand theft by embezzlement at a change-of-plea hearing in Blaine County 5th District Court.

"It was my mistake," Shurtz told Judge Robert J. Elgee. "I wrote checks to myself."

Elgee told Shurtz that the crime is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Sentencing was scheduled for May 21.

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The defendant's guilty plea was in accord with a "binding plea agreement" worked out between the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office and Ketchum attorney Dan Dolan, who was court-appointed to represent Shurtz.

The agreement allows Shurtz to withdraw her guilty plea if Elgee exceeds the recommended sentence specified by the parties. Terms of the agreement were not discussed in court, nor were they immediately available to the Idaho Mountain Express.

Shurtz was charged with the crime in May 2011 following a year-long investigation.

Sheriff's Detective Mark Dalton alleged in a probable-cause affidavit that Shurtz wrote "approximately 92" checks to herself without Farm Bureau permission. Dalton wrote that Shurtz falsified Farm Bureau records and bank statements to hide the thefts.

Dalton listed the amount embezzled at $35,288.21.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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