Former councilman pleads not guilty to theft

Former Hoquiam City Council member James D. Rutz made his first appearance on charges he stole money from the Grays Harbor Sea Scouts this week. The 57-year-old Aberdeen resident pleaded not guilty to second-degree theft in Grays Harbor Superior Court.

Rutz, former treasurer for the Sea Scouts, is accused of stealing $1,000 from the scouts’ fundraiser money to pay personal bills. When confronted about money missing from an account, according to court documents, Rutz claimed he had withdrawn the money to haul the scouts’ 72-foot boat, which had not been done. He failed to return the money when asked to do so, the documents continued.

Hoquiam police interviewed Rutz, who admitted verbally and in writing to using the debit card for the scouts’ account for personal items, records state, including his personal electrical and cell phone bills. The statement from the Twin Star Credit Union account for that period shows purchases not authorized by the Sea Scouts totalling about $981, according to records.