Former Volunteer of Year sentenced to 130 days in jail

A tearful Amber Wulff listens to the judge during her July 14, 2010, sentencing for stealing from a pair of Wallowa County organizations. Wulff, who lives in Scio, faces once count each of first-degree theft, identity theft and money laundering and eight counts of first-degree aggravated theft.

Amber Wulff, 32, who in 2008 was chosen the Wallowa Valley Little League Association's Volunteer of the Year, has been sentenced to 130 days in jail for stealing from Little League and Enterprise Education Foundation (EEF) while she was an officer in both organizations.

As part of a negotiated plea agreement, during the July 14 sentencing Wallowa-Union County Circuit Court Judge Russ West ordered Wulff to also pay the two nonprofits $17,021 in restitution - $8,798 to EEF and $8,223 to Little League - and $4,000 in compensatory fines.

Because the defendant is expecting a baby within the next few weeks, West told Wulff, the mother of two school-aged children, to report Sept. 15 to Union County jail to begin her jail term. During the last 30 days of her sentence she will be eligible for alternative sentencing, such as house arrest.

Wulff was represented by attorney Victoria Moffet of La Grande, while Wallowa County District Attorney Mona K. Williams prosecuted the case.

Wulff's crimes against the volunteer entities came to light after she moved to Scio last summer and serious discrepancies were found.

"I'm not going to make excuses for what I did wrong. ... I got so caught up in being a super mom, that I made horrible choices. I'll be paying for it ... the rest of my life," said a tearful Wulff at the end of a three-hour long sentencing hearing July 14 in the Wallowa County Courthouse.

Wulff pleaded guilty to five Class C felonies -three first-degree theft and two first-degree forgery counts - in the EEF case, and three Class A misdemeanor counts of misapplication of entrusted funds in the Little League case.

She was originally charged with four counts of first-degree theft, two of first-degree forgery, and four of second-degree theft in the EEF case and one count of first-degree theft, three counts of second-degree theft and four counts of misapplication of entrusted funds in the Little League case.

Wulff served as EEF treasurer from near the end of 2005 through part of 2009, and was Little League association secretary from 2006 through mid-2009. She was also an Enterprise School Board member from 2006 until she left Wallowa County last summer.

The "entrusted funds" included an unknown amount of cash from Little League boys' and girls' concessions, which was never deposited; in fact, unbeknown to anyone else, an account that held $4,000 when she took over responsibility for it was closed for lack of sufficient funds. The restitution amount to Little League was an estimate of how much she actually "misapplied" for her own use.

Testimony from representatives of both EEF and Little League indicated that Wulff's criminal breach of their confidence has resulted in a loss of trust of them within the community.

Mike Wiedeman, a founding member of the EEF, reported that the EEF - which pays for music and art programs in the Enterprise school system - has experienced a 50 percent reduction in fundraising since Wulff was charged.

"The level of deception that Amber went through to steal from the Enterprise Education Foundation was, for lack of a better word, impressive," said EEF president Cindi Aschenbrenner. "I used to think she was one of the most selfless people I had ever met . ... I hope that someday Amber sees the far reaching damage she has done to the EEF fundraising efforts and how that has affected the kids."

Written statements were read into the record from the LL association as a group and from LL officer Kannon Miller, who said she had previously considered Wulff a close personal friend.

Wallowa County District attorney Mona K. Williams had asked 80 more days in jail than the final sentence, because more space in the Union County jail for Wallowa County is currently not available.

Because of a stipulation in Oregon law, four 30-day sentences recommended for the felonies (one theft and one forgery sentence were concurrent) were reduced to 10 days each by the judge.

However, each of the misdemeanors received the full 30-day recommended sentence.

"I would say that I'm glad to be through the process and I'm glad to be back to business as usual, which is raising money through the foundation for the kids," Aschenbrenner said about the sentence.

Before he sentenced Wulff, Judge West talked about the irony in her being named as the top volunteer during a year she'd been stealing while in a position of trust.

"These organizations were your cash cow for your own needs," said West. "I hope these aren't crocodile tears and you are sincere. Only you know for sure."

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