Former councilman gets maximum for theft

The former Hoquiam City Council member who pleaded guilty to stealing from the Sea Scouts was sentenced to 60 days in jail Monday in Grays Harbor Superior Court.

James D. Rutz, 57, of Aberdeen, pleaded guilty Aug. 28 to second-degree theft after stealing nearly $1,000 from the Grays Harbor Sea Scouts’ fundraiser money while he served as the group’s treasurer. Court documents state Rutz used the money to pay personal bills.

Rutz apologized for his actions before his sentencing.

“I am extremely sorry for what I’ve done. I’ve apologized to the Sea Scouts, I’ve apologized to their charter organization and I’ve apologized to the Boy Scouts of America,” Rutz said. “I would feel exceedingly hypocritical if I didn’t stand up here before you and say I did this. That’s as plain and simple as I can get.”

Deputy prosecutor William Leraas said his recommendation was 30 days in jail with 20 days converted to community service.

“He has no pertinent criminal history, it appears it was a crime of opportunity,” Leraas told Judge Gordon Godfrey.

Rutz’s attorney, Robert Ehrhardt, asked for 20 days, all converted to community service.

“He’s been very open to me, he said, ‘I preach to my children when you do something wrong you take responsibility,’ ” Ehrhardt said. “And that’s what he’s done here.”

Godfrey instead went with the maximum sentence for the crime. He pointed out other defendents in custody to Rutz.

“You look at them, there’s maybe one or two high school graduates, they never had a prayer,” Godfrey said. “You stole from kids (and) you’re educated.”