Theft charges pending for former Tonya’s House director

Shawn MacGregor moved to Pendleton from Minnesota to become director of Tonya's House.

A Umatilla County grand jury indicted the former director of the Pendleton nonprofit Tonya’s House for stealing more than $10,000 from the organization.

Shawn Elizabeth MacGregor, 56, of Pendleton, goes to court Tuesday for an arraignment on charges of one count of first-degree aggravated theft, seven of first-degree theft and one of second-degree theft.

MacGregor is now a health educator at Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center on the Umatilla Indian Reservation. She did not immediately return a phone message Wednesday.

Tonya’s House provided temporary shelter and care to teen girls in crisis. The nonprofit closed in May 2017. Casey White-Zollman chaired the Tonya’s House board of directors. She said at the time “expenses were increasing, but donations were not,” and the financial reports did not pencil out to keep operating.

White-Zollman on Wednesday said she knows of the theft case but on the advice of a lawyer could not comment about it.

“We are aware and have been cooperating with law enforcement,” she said.

Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts said his department started the criminal investigation in September 2017.

The case came to light, he said, after MacGregor told a friend about her wrongdoing. The friend was a member of the organization’s board of directors. That led to a board member who is a lawyer contacting the Oregon Department of Justice, which in turn called Pendleton police.

Roberts said officers working in conjunction with the justice department served three search warrants to secure evidence of fiscal information and found MacGregor made several transfers of funds from Tonya’s House accounts to personal accounts. She also used a credit card belonging to the nonprofit.

Some fraud cases are complex, Robert said, and working with the justice department on these is common practice. This case, he said, “seemed pretty cut and dried.”

Tonya’s House hired MacGregor in April 2016. According to the indictment, the thefts occurred from November 2016 to May 2017. The largest amount was for $10,000 or more and relates to the aggravated theft charge. The seven counts of first-degree theft are each for $1,000 or more. The second-degree theft count is for $100 or more.

Roberts also said this type of crime is not uncommon for small nonprofits. They usually lack oversight and most of the board members don’t get into the nuts and bolts of daily operations.

Karen Hutchinson-Talaski of Hermiston in 2014 and 2015 stole more than $8,000 from the Umatilla Chamber of Commerce while working as its director. And Joann Griffith faces 35 counts of theft and computer crimes related to stealing from the Spray Rodeo Association and Haystack Cemetery Association, both in Wheeler County.

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