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Youth hockey embezzlement leads to community service

A Medford woman has avoided prison after admitting she stole money reaching five figures from the Medford youth hockey nonprofit she once headed.

Cara Jane Ruettgers, 45, was sentenced to probation and community service Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court after pleading guilty to a single felony count each of aggravated first-degree theft and identity theft, admitting she breached fiduciary duties and enriched herself by at least $10,000 between 2016 and 2019 while serving roles that included treasurer and president of the Rogue Valley Youth Hockey Association — a nonprofit composed of several youth hockey teams.

It took months of investigation involving a Medford police detective, an Oregon Department of Justice forensic accountant and other Rogue Valley Youth Hockey Association board members in order to determine that $57,116.31 was missing from the nonprofit’s books between Feb 21, 2017, and Dec. 18, 2018, according to documents filed by Medford police in the case.

Board members reportedly first contacted Medford police in January 2019 about the embezzlement, according to earlier news reports. Some 10 months later, on Nov. 8, 2019, Ruettgers was arrested on aggravated theft, forgery and identity theft charges.

Deputy District Attorney Ruby Herriott, who prosecuted the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.

Terms of the probation-only plea agreement negotiated between Herriott and Ruettger’s lawyer, Jeni Feinberg, included having Ruettgers provide a statement of apology to the hockey association, 136 hours of community service, no involvement in sports organizations and no employment or volunteer work that involves fiduciary duties during the probation period, and that Ruettgers undergo any recommended counseling or treatment as recommended by the court, according to a document signed and dated Tuesday by Ruettgers earlier this week and filed in court Friday.

If she completes her four-year probation with no violations, she may be eligible to pursue expunging the felony convictions through the DA’s office, according to the plea agreement.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

Cara Jane Ruettgers, 45, was sentenced to probation and community service after pleading guilty to aggravated and identity theft charges for embezzling a five-figure sum from a local youth hockey nonprofit. Medford police file photo.