Woman admits embezzling $200K from non-profit

As a result of the scheme, Thelma Clemons was able to get away with more than $200,000

(AP Photo/Karel Navarro)
(AP Photo/Karel Navarro)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A woman accused of wire fraud pleaded guilty in an embezzlement case that took more than $200,000 from a non-profit.

Thelma Clemons appeared in U.S. District court in Eugene on Wednesday, December 7, where she pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Federal investigators determined Clemons devised a scheme to defraud the Oregon Association for Career and Technical Education — now known as Oregon ACTE Inc — by using false pretenses and representations, getting away with more than $200,000.

The current president for President Oregon ACTE Inc., Ed Woods, said the organization promotes and supports career and technical education opportunities through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and partnerships.

Oregon ACTE Inc. is now undergoing a re-organization and has since cancelled its state conferences.

Clemons had direct access and control to OACTE’s financial records, bank accounts, PayPal account, and other important information. Woods said he believes the embezzlement occurred for more than 7 years, but investigators were only able get records from the non-profit’s bank going back 7 years.

The investigation

In July 2015, OACTE requested an audit be conducted of the organization’s finances. Records show Clemons drafted a signed letter that claimed OACTE’s finances were in order.

Woods said the letter was forged.

Investigators determined Clemons and her husband were using the embezzled money to make ATM withdrawals, grocery purchases, vacationing expenses and paying personal bills.

“They loved to vacation,” Woods said. “All on our dime.”

Woods described the theft as “devastating.”

According to Woods, the case against Clemons was investigated by the FBI because the money being swindled was federal money given to the organization in order to be given out.

Woods said since the discovery of the theft, Clemons has repaid $100,000. Woods said it appears prosecutors will seek full restitution and probation.

Clemons’ sentencing in federal court will occur in Feb. 2017. She has been allowed to stay out of custody pending sentencing.

A civil lawsuit has been filed against Clemons and her husband in Marion County Circuit Court. Clemons’ husband was not criminally charged in connection to the case.