The former house manager of the Friendship House in Enumclaw, Jamie M. Casteel, has been charged with one count of first degree theft by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Casteel was arraigned in King County Superior Court Friday, Oct. 1, at the Kent Regional Justice Center and entered a plea of not guilty. A case setting hearing is scheduled for Nov. 16 at the Regional Justice Center. Casteel is being represented by Maple Valley attorney Abraham Ritter.
The Enumclaw Police Department probable cause document stated Casteel, “wrongfully deprived Friendship House itself of money (property) by depositing business monies into her own personal bank account(s). It can also be shown that Casteel wrongfully deprived all four Friendship House clients of money (property) by depositing their personal money (property) from the house Mortgage Account into her own personal account.”
Friendship House is a home for developmentally disabled adults. The four male adults own the home. According to the police report, their names are on the mortgage agreement along with house bills and utility statements.
The parents or legal guardians make up the Board of Directors.
The police report stated the parents or guardians placed $500 per month from each client’s state disability money into the house’s mortgage account, which pays the mortgage and utility bills. The state provides funds for employee salaries and other operational needs.
The investigating detective wrote, “The four house accounts in question for this case are the Mortgage Account, Administration Account, Recreation Account and Housekeeping Account.”
Employees at the house reported June 4 Casteel had allegedly stolen money from the client’s accounts.
The detective investigated the four account ledgers and received a search warrant for Casteel’s personal bank account. The investigation revealed Casteel had written checks to herself from the client’s accounts and either deposited them into her U.S. Bank account or cashed them at the bank.
The detective stated the checks went back to 2011, but the majority of the check writing started in 2012 with most in 2013 and 2014.
“My investigation has uncovered approximately $12,373.16 in checks made out to Casteel with fraudulent ledger notations from all four accounts combined,” the detective wrote. “My investigation has also uncovered Casteel had taken approximately $45,722.07 out of the Recreation Account and Administration Account in what was marked “Petty Cash.”
The reported noted most of the checks marked petty cash were cashed at U.S. Bank and not placed in her account, making it more difficult to track. The house staff gave statements that the amount from petty cash far exceeded what would have been necessary, which is why the detective included the amount in the probable cause document.
According to the police report Casteel voluntarily came into the department for an interview with the detective.
“During this interview Casteel admitted to taking money from Friendship House,” the detective wrote. “Casteel admitted to writing checks to herself and depositing them into her personal account. Casteel did not offer a reason as to why she did this other than she was living beyond her means at the time and found she had easy access to Friendship House money. I asked Casteel how much money she estimated she took from Friendship House and Casteel stated she thought it was probably close to $10,000.”
She denied using petty cash for personal use, according to the report.
The detective stated, “However, I pointed out to her the approximate amount she had taken out in the two to three years where she was most actively taking money from Friendship House accounts. I went through several ledgers and check images with Casteel.”
The report noted Casteel began working as a caregiver at Friendship House in January 2009 and was promoted to house manager in November 2010. The detective wrote she was terminated in April, before the alleged theft was discovered.
According to the prosecuting attorney’s charging document Casteel’s, “only known criminal conviction history is a 1999 Trip Permit Violation.”
First degree theft is a class B felony and carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $20,000.