Court clerk facing felony theft charges

EVERETT — A Snohomish County court clerk who handled cash payments made by young criminal defendants is now facing a felony theft charge for allegedly pocketing some of that money.

Sara Nicole Nelson, 37, was charged March 27 with one count of felony second-degree theft.

Nelson came under suspicion in the fall after accounts at the Juvenile Division of Snohomish County Superior Court came up more than $3,200 short.

An audit traced the missing money to 33 cash payments that had been made by juvenile defendants to probation counselors. The paper trail, including receipts created in triplicate, showed the money had been collected and turned over to court clerks for recording and processing, according to the charging papers.

An investigation found that Nelson used the court’s computerized receipt system to send the probation office printed sheets verifying that clerks had processed the defendant’s payments, but she allegedly logged off before the payments were recorded in the database.

That meant no record was created about what happened to the money, according to court papers.

The missing payments were made in cash.

As the investigation progressed, measures were put into place to more closely monitor the payments. On Nov. 13, another $100 cash payment disappeared.

“Nelson was the only cashier that day and the theft is directly attributed to her,” according to an Everett police detective’s report filed along with the charge.

When questioned by police, Nelson denied taking any money.

She’s been placed on leave by the clerk’s office. She was not in court for her scheduled arraignment on Monday.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com.

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