BAKER CITY — A jury convicted a former Baker City man of felony theft for stealing money in 2017 from a local assisted living center he co-owned.
Jeremy Gale Thamert, 49, was convicted on Oct. 8 of three counts of first-degree theft, a Class C felony, and one count of second-degree theft, a Class A misdemeanor, after a five-day trial in Baker County Circuit Court.
The jury also acquitted Thamert, who moved from Baker City to Prineville in 2017, of one count of first-degree theft and one count of second-degree theft.
One count of first-degree theft and one count of second-degree theft were dismissed.
Circuit Judge Russell B. West, who presided over the trial after Judge Matt Shirtcliff recused himself due to a conflict, sentenced Thamert on Oct. 8 to 10 days in the Baker County Jail and two years of probation, and ordered him to pay $10,565 in compensation and restitution to his former business partner, Robert Whitnah of Baker City.
Thamert, who waived a delay in sentencing, also has to pay $300 in court fees and fines.
Thamert was charged in August 2019 with stealing about $100,000 from Beehive Homes, the Baker City assisted living center he formerly co-owned with Whitnah.
Thamert and his former wife, Traci, were business partners with Whitnah and his former wife, Krischele Whitnah. Beehive Homes opened in 2014.
Robert Whitnah is now the sole owner of the business, which he renamed Memory Lane Homes.
Whitnah said in a phone interview on Monday, Oct. 11 that he is “really glad that the jury saw through (Thamert’s) nonsense.”
Whitnah said Thamert was not only his business partner, but also his “best friend.”
Whitnah said it was distressing to learn that Thamert had been stealing money from the business.
In regard to the $10,565 Thamert has to pay, Whitnah said that in his view “this has never been about the money.”
“It’s about needing him to be held accountable.”
Whitnah, who is himself a defense attorney, testified during Thamert’s trial.
Whitnah said he was surprised by how “emotionally involved I was,” even though he acknowledged that it is a different matter to defend someone in a criminal trial as compared to testifying against a defendant.
“I don’t think I was a great witness,” Whitnah said. “I think the state could have gotten more charges if I was a better witness.”
Kurt Miller, a senior assistant state attorney general, prosecuted Thamert.
Thamert, who is the facilities manager for Crook County, was represented by Erick Ward of Bend.
Robert Whitnah said Thamert also had worked as an investigator for the Whitnahs’ law office.
Thamert had been the bookkeeper for the business, Whitnah said. Once Thamert left, an audit was conducted in October and November of 2017. That’s when it became apparent that money was missing, Whitnah said.