Jefferson Co. treasurer charged with forgery, theft

36 counts also include official misconduct over apparently altered checks, missing funds

MADRAS, Ore. - Jefferson County Treasurer Deena Goss has been indicted on 36 counts of forgery, theft and official misconduct following a state Department of Justice investigation into apparent check-altering and discrepancies in the county's books, the agency confirmed Friday.

Goss was indicted on Wednesday and is scheduled for arraignment on the charges next Friday, August 8th, at 1:30 p.m., Department of Justice spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson told NewsChannel 21, declining to comment further due to the pending litigation.

Goss was indicted on eight counts of second-degree forgery, 14 counts of third-degree theft and 14 counts of official misconduct.

The state had been investigating Goss since spring, after a resident complained in late February that a $26 check written for a county dog license had been cashed for $46. A county investigation found a "2" on the check appeared to have been altered to "4" – and $20 in cash the county recorded as received that same day was missing from the county's bank deposit.

The county found more than a dozen instances between September and February in which cash was missing from a day's deposits, with corresponding alterations to or irregularities with the day's checks. A total of $315 was unaccounted for.

Last April, county commissioners named county Finance Director Kathie Rohde as temporary custodian of county funds pending the outcome of the investigation.

Goss, appointed treasurer in 2003 after her predecessor retired, was elected the following year and re-elected in 2008 and 2012.

On Friday, county Administrator Jeff Rasmussen provided a May memo in which he noted that after the county made its findings and the state investigation began, Goss placed herself on paid administrative leave and appointed a deputy treasurer.

In late May, Rasmussen said, county commissioners approved his recommendation, endorsed by the compensation board, that the treasurer's pay be revised from salary to hourly, at $30.30 an hour, with a maximum of 200 hours a fiscal year and 20 hours in any month. It was based on her total compensation package of about $66,000 a year.

Rasmussen told NewsChannel 21 Goss has not submitted for any stipend in June or July.

The county clerk's pay was raised $1,000 a month for performing duties of the county treasurer.

Goss also was investigated by the state in 2011 over the disappearance of nearly $8,000 from an account for inmates and the county jail. She also was investigated by the county commission in the investment of $20 million in county funds in corporate debt notes, in violation of county policy and state law.

The county and state found insufficient wrongdoing to bring criminal charges, and the county issued a formal apology to her.

Because Goss is an elected official, the county cannot remove her from office. Elected officials convicted of wrongdoing must either resign or be recalled.

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