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Woman admits stealing $120,000

A 36-year-old Oak Harbor woman pleaded guilty last week in what may be one of the largest theft cases in Island County history.

In a plea bargain, Jill Renee Baum pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court June 18 to theft in the first degree for stealing nearly $120,000 from Oak Harbor’s Cascade Custom Homes when she worked for the company.

Judge Alan Hancock agreed with the recommended sentence worked out by the prosecution and sentenced her to 10 months in jail, which is an exceptional sentence beyond the standard range.

Hancock also ordered Baum to pay back $118,669 in restitution to the owner of the construction company. She will have to make monthly payments over many years.

In court, Hancock said the amount stolen was one of the largest in county history. In an interview, Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks agreed that it was the top two or three biggest thefts his office has dealt with while he’s been in office.

According to a report by Detective Carl Seim with the Oak Harbor Police, the owner of Cascade Custom Home discovered last fall that his assistant, Baum, had been making thousands of dollars worth of unauthorized purchases on the company’s credit cards.

It turned out that Baum had spent huge amounts of money on five separate credit card accounts over a nine-month period. She fraudulently used the credit cards to put money down on a pickup and purchased a huge variety of goods and services, including airline tickets, furniture, Botox, hair extensions, vibrational therapy and fancy underwear, the report states.

According to the police report, Baum admitted “using the company credit card for personal use to make her feel good.” Baum said she suffered from depression, the report states, and she intended to pay the company back.

“It’s like, I don’t know, it’s like I can’t stop and I don’t know why. I knew it was wrong,” Baum said, according to Seim’s report.

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