Former Birch Bay Water and Sewer District treasurer Glenn Golay pleaded guilty to nine counts of first-degree theft on July 14 stemming from his embezzlement of $469,000 from the district.
Whatcom County prosecuting attorney James Hulbert agreed to dismiss seven counts of first-degree theft against Golay in exchange for a guilty plea. As part of the plea agreement, Golay agreed to a three-year sentence and will pay restitution to the water and sewer district.
“It’s difficult to imagine anything worse than stealing from a taxing district,” Hulbert said.
Golay’s sentencing hearing has been set for August 11. Hulbert said he sees no reason why the judge would not impose the three-year term recommended for Golay.
In March, Golay was charged with 16 counts of first-degree theft in connection with stealing $469,000 from the water and sewer district. During plea negotiations, Hulbert agreed to dismiss seven counts since Golay most likely would not have received a much harsher sentence even if he had pleaded guilty to all 16 counts.
“I have to offer some sort of incentive to agree to a plea deal,” Hulbert said. “We could have charged [Golay] with a lot more.”
In addition to a prison term, Golay will have to repay the money he stole from the water and sewer district. When ordered to pay back large amounts, Hulbert said most offenders set up payment plans through the court. However, this sometimes means the victims of theft never get paid back in full.
The Birch Bay Water and Sewer District will be covered for the amount that was lost, minus a $5,000 deductible, through the Washington State Water and Sewer Risk Management Pool, district general manager Roger Brown said. While the district was not involved much in the case after Golay was arrested in February, Brown said he thinks the prosecution handled the case well.
“I hope it serves as a deterrent against doing anything like this to anyone else in the public trust,” Brown said.
Golay used a now-abolished district travel reimbursement account, which was not supposed to contain more than $2,000, to transfer between $37,000 and $80,000 to his personal bank and credit card accounts over the past seven years, according to court documents. Golay wrote checks to himself, his wife, his church, and a number of different credit card companies and banks. None of the checks, which varied in amount from $1,000 to $8,000, had district board of commissioner’s approval.
Golay, a certified public accountant, had been the water and sewer district’s treasurer for 23 years. He admitted to investigators that he had a problem with spending and an inability to manage his credit card debt.