Nevada City woman to face charges relating to theft from nonprofit agency
September 2, 2013
A Nevada County judge found sufficient evidence to hold a Nevada City woman to answer on multiple charges of forgery and fraudulent use of a credit card, involving the theft of money from a nonprofit children's agency, as well as from a family member.
Robin Jean Gauldin, 48, allegedly made unauthorized credit card charges on a card belonging to her husband's uncle, Richard Farley, in the fall of 2012.
In a preliminary hearing into the evidence held in Nevada County Superior Court Thursday, Nevada County Sheriff's Sgt. Justin Martin testified that he took a report from Farley in November.
Farley told Martin he initially had loaned Gauldin $9,500, then allowed her to use his credit card to pay for her son's school housing in the amount of $1,700.
But on Oct. 1, Martin said, Farley discovered an a unauthorized charge on his card. Gauldin reportedly told Farley it was a mistake and she would take care of it.
Martin said that Farley subsequently canceled that card, but while he was on vacation, Gauldin apparently gained access to the replacement card after it came in the mail. Martin said that when he interviewed Gauldin, she admitted to making a number of unauthorized charges on Farley's credit card, as well as taking several cash advance checks; she subsequently cashed one.
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"She cried," Martin testified. "She said she knew what she did was wrong."
Gauldin was arrested on similar charges in January, however, after being hired by Sierra Nevada Children's Services, a private, nonprofit child care resource and referral agency.
Gauldin was hired in late November and was handling the agency's accounts payable.
Sierra Nevada Children's Services connects families in need of child care options, working with families to help them find caregivers and services. The organization offers assistance through direct financial support, referrals and resources, access to educational workshops and other technical assistance, as well as maintaining a resource library.
Grass Valley Police Officer Brian Blakemore testified that he initially did a civil standby while the organization terminated Gauldin, then took a criminal report later the same day.
Gauldin allegedly issued herself unauthorized payroll checks for almost $2,500 and forged board members' signatures on the checks. She also allegedly used an agency credit card to pay the rent on her son's housing, a little more than $2,500.
Det. Zack LaFerriere testified that he interviewed Gauldin after he served a search warrant at her Pasquale Road residence. Gauldin admitted to the credit card charges and said she had plans to pay it back, he said. She also told him she printed the checks out and cashed them, but stopped short of admitting the forged signatures.
LaFerriere described Gauldin as very cooperative, describing an email entry she showed him that Deputy Public Defender Tamara Zuromskis described as "her timeline of downward spiral."
Judge C. Anders Holmer noted that several initial counts of grand theft would be more appropriately charged as credit card theft, since the alleged crime involved incurring debt in another person's name rather than actual theft of monies. Zuromskis asked that the charges be reduced to misdemeanors, noting that Gauldin was remorseful.
"She was quick to confess, and confessed in great detail," Zuromskis said. "She has made it easy for the prosecution by not only confessing, but giving them a road map."
The deputy public defender noted that Gauldin committed a string of bad acts over a short period of time but did so to pay for necessities rather than designer clothing or drugs.
"A felony will ruin her life," she said.
Deputy District Attorney Kyra Patterson, however, argued that confession and restitution alone should not reduce multiple felonious acts to misdemeanors.
"She apologized and then turned around and did the same thing," Patterson said. "These are two separate cases with an apology in between."
Holmer denied the motion to reduce the charges, calling Gauldin's acts a "massive breach of trust on multiple occasions."
He held her to answer the charges of forgery and the fraudulent use of a credit card and scheduled her formal arraignment for Sept. 20.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.