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For the week of October 18 through 24, 2000

Cemetery secretary charged with embezzlement

Nearly $58,000 allegedly stolen

Express Staff Writer

The secretary for the Hailey Cemetery Maintenance District has been charged with embezzling nearly $58,000 from the district.

A criminal complaint was filed Oct. 11 in Fifth District Court in Hailey charging Donna Rae Murphy, 63, a Richfield resident, with 28 counts of grand theft, a felony, and 36 counts of forgery, also a felony.

Murphy was booked into Blaine County Jail on Oct. 12 but has been released on a $5,000 bond. Her arraignment is set for Oct. 30.

According to the complaint, the alleged incidents of forgery and theft occurred between Oct. 19, 1998 and July 28, 2000.

The total amount of embezzled funds is $57,935, according to a probable cause affidavit in support of her arrest made out by the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office.

According to his written report, Blaine County Sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Ron Taylor stated that cemetery board chairman John Davies said he examined 37 checks made out to Murphy given him by Kathy Lovell, a cemetary board member, and that Davies’ name was forged on all 37.

In the same report, Taylor said Murphy admitted making checks out to herself and her son, James Stuart, and cashing them in Twin Falls.

She told Taylor that she had taken $16,000 to $17,000 from the cemetery district but that she had paid that amount back.

Murphy said she wrote two checks to her son for $9,900 and $1,250, but that her son had no knowledge of the source of the money.

Murphy could not be reached for comment.

According to Blaine County Treasurer Vicki Dick, the Hailey Cemetary District, like all cemetery districts in the county, is a taxing district. She said the district levied $129,839.74 in taxes in 1999 and as of the end of September, $126,495.95 had been collected.

Lovell said the money is used for maintenance, payroll and capital outlays. She said current capital outlays include the building of a new office, the purchase of land, and the installation of an underground sprinkling system.

She said she did not know how the lost money would be made up.


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