Guilty plea in Public Guardian embezzle case |

Guilty plea in Public Guardian embezzle case

A former Nevada County employee accused of stealing more than $21,000 from the Public Guardian pleaded guilty to an embezzlement charge and is scheduled for sentencing next month.

Martha Chambless, 52, of Penn Valley, likely will be ordered to pay back all the money she stole, according to a conditional plea agreement reached this week by her lawyer, Gregory Klein, and Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson, and approved by Nevada County Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderson.

The agreement, which Chambless signed in court Thursday, also lists a recommendation for 180 days in jail.

In court, Chambless was quiet and reserved. She looked down when Anderson or Klein was not addressing her, and her “guilty” plea was barely audible.

If Chambless pays $5,000 up front, Ferguson said, she is willing to allow Chambless to spend 90 days in jail and the other 90 days of her sentence doing community service.

Before District Attorney Cliff Newell charged her in August, Chambless earned a salary of between $2,428 and $2,964 per month as a senior accounting assistant for the Nevada County Public Guardian, according to county personnel records.

Chambless resigned from her job earlier this year, Newell said.

The salary was not enough to care for herself and her severely disabled husband, who cannot work, Klein has said.

The Public Guardian/Conservator establishes trust accounts in the county for people who have been declared dependents of the county. The agency manages all aspects of a dependent’s finances.

“(Chambless) used her position as a public officer to take money distributed by the Public Guardian and created false accounts in an effort to conceal that theft,” Ferguson said.

Investigators have a paper trail that proves Chambless embezzled $21,180 from the agency over a six-month period.

Chambless is scheduled for sentencing at 9 a.m. Nov. 26 in Nevada County Superior Court.


To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail or call 477-4236.

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