Former Wapato clerk charged for allegedly stealing $300,000 from city in 'check-for-cash' scheme

WAPATO, Wash. - A former Wapato city clerk has been charged with nine counts of first-degree theft after investigators say she stole more than $300,000 from the city in a "check for cash" scheme.

Police say Gloria Acosta took the bulk of the money from payments made to the city for business and operations taxes, leases and cemetery purposes between 2011 and 2017. 

"I'm really sorry about everything and there's nothing I can take back," Acosta allegedly told the state auditor's office, according to court documents. 

Prior to being placed on administrative leave in 2017, Acosta had worked at the city for more than 15 year. She was responsible for payroll, miscellaneous billing, organizing deposits and serving as a front counter cashier for Wapato City Hall.

According to court documents, Acosta would steal cash payments made by residents. To balance the books, she reportedly made up the difference by cashing big checks made to the city and splitting the difference. 

Acosta allegedly falsified the account transactions, saying that the citizens had paid by check and that the payment for leases or taxes had come up short.  That way, police say, when the big check was cashed, the receipts would come up balanced. 

In 2011, Acosta reportedly stole about $4,500. Court documents show that number escalated by tens of thousands of dollars over the years, with losses of almost $100,000 reported in a single year. 

According to court documents, Acosta allegedly told the state auditor's office, "I know it was wrong. I don't need anyone else's forgiveness. I prayed to God and I asked for his forgiveness."

Acosta is out of police custody on bail. Her next hearing in Yakima County Superior Court is scheduled for Nov. 7. 

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