URGENT — Jury finds former Clallam sheriff’s evidence clerk guilty of stealing funds

PORT ANGELES — A jury this morning found former evidence officer Staci L. Allison guilty on all counts in the theft of money from the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.

The eight-woman, four-man jury found Allison, 41, guilty of first-degree theft — with an aggravating factor of the theft being a major economic offense — and money laundering.

She faces up to 10 years in prison.

Sentencing is set Nov. 17 in Clallam County Superior Court.

The verdict was announced at 11:30 a.m. today after the case went to the jury for deliberation at 2:25 p.m. Thursday.

Allison, who had moved to Montesano, was accused of stealing $8,644 from the sheriff’s evidence room when she worked as the Sheriff’s Office’s only evidence officer from 2003 through 2006.

As much as $51,251 in cash was found missing from the evidence room in November 2006.

Allison testified Thursday that she did not take the money and that she did not know who did.

Testimony in the trial began Tuesday.

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BELOW is the Peninsula Daily News’ previous story on this case:

PORT ANGELES — The fate of a former evidence officer accused of taking money from the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office is in the hands of a jury.

Staci L. Allison’s trial for first-degree theft and money laundering went to the jury for deliberation Thursday afternoon at 2:25 p.m., after Allison took the stand to say she did not take the money and that she did not know who did.

The jury of eight women and four men did not reach a verdict Thursday and will reconvene today to continue deliberations.

Allison, 41, of Montesano is accused of stealing $8,644 from the sheriff’s evidence room when she worked as the Sheriff’s Office’s only evidence officer from 2003 through 2006.

As much as $51,251 in cash was found missing from the evidence room in November 2006.

Allison testimony

On the witness stand early Thursday, Allison — who was the only defense witness called to testify — outlined a pattern of harassment she said she received from other Sheriff’s Office employees.

She said the harassment was based on anger over personal relationships she had with two deputies who were dismissed from the department — one a close friend and the other a boyfriend.

Both were dismissed from the department under what she called “bad circumstances,” she said.

The treatment she received from other employees left her feeling like an outsider in the department, she said.

“Once I was walking through the squad room with seized weapons, and one of them said, ‘Look out, she’s going postal,’” Allison said.

At the same time she was receiving commendations for her performance in the evidence room and earning a scholarship to a conference, her supervisor, Office Administrative Coordinator Chris James, was compiling a secret list of Allison’s failings, she told the jury.

No one ever complained they had not received their money back after it was released from evidence, Allison said.

The state audited the evidence room every year and never found anything missing, she said.

Cross-examination

In cross-examination, Assistant State Attorney General Scott Marlow produced a box full of the cash evidence envelopes Allison is accused of raiding and the blue plastic file bin they were found in.

“What procedure did you use to audit these?” Marlow asked.

He pointed out that when a bag is received by the evidence officer, it is cut open on a side other than any taped opening, and the money is counted, returned to the bag and resealed with red sticky tape that leaves a red residue when removed.

None of the examples he showed the jury had more than one piece of tape on it.

He said it was placed there by the deputy who placed the evidence inside.

“Where is the tape where you closed up the bag?” he asked Allison.

“Someone removed it,” Allison replied.

Marlow pointed out that there was no residue left from the tape, which is designed to leave a mark if it is peeled off.

“Someone must have cut it off,” she said.

Marlow said that in one case the matching “hard card,” the primary record-keeping file that tracks evidence in a single case, listed the location of marijuana seized but not the money.

Children’s tales

In closing arguments, each attorney used a children’s tale to describe the weaknesses in the other’s argument.

Defense attorney Ralph Anderson compared the prosecution’s case to the nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty.”

“All the king’s horses and all the king’s men . . . ,” Anderson quoted, characterizing the prosecution’s evidence as being fractured.

Anderson told the jury the prosecution never connected any sum of missing money to Allison’s bank account and never showed why she would delete computer records unrelated to the money.

A two-year gap in payday loans, a period the prosecution said was because she had extra income from stealing cash evidence, was due to a change in Allison’s life circumstances, not theft, he said.

Her spending habits never changed; she didn’t suddenly show up in expensive clothing or a Ferrari, Anderson said.

Marlow compared Anderson’s case to a cartoon dog in the children’s movie “Up.”

He said one dog distracts other dogs from finding the movie’s heroes through misdirection by pointing away from his friends and saying, “Look, there’s a squirrel!”

“Meanwhile, the evidence is over there,” Marlow said, pointing in the other direction.

“It’s not the lack of payday loans; it’s the cash deposits,” he said.

Witnesses for the prosecution testified that there were $11,000 in unexplained deposits to Allison’s bank account, more than $9,000 during a two-year period of time she took no payday loans.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at [email protected]

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