Parrett Mountain Farm director charged with embezzlement
06:49 PM PDT on Thursday, September 17, 2009
By WAYNE HAVRELLY for Kgw.com
In a major black eye for an Oregon charity known for preserving our state’s farming history, the executive of Parrett Mountain Farm is in jail, charged with embezzling at least $52,000.
Elizabeth Rhode, the director of the Crystal Dawn Smith Rilee Foundation that operates Parrett Mountain Farm, is in jail charged with five counts of theft and two counts of forgery.
Rhode took over the non-profit foundation after her grandmother Crystal Dawn Smith Rilee passed away three years ago. She was an descendent of the Parrett family who established the farm in 1853.
“Oregonians gave money to this charity and they believed in it. It’s always very disappointing when people steal, said Tony Green with Oregon’s Department of Justice which helped with the investigation.
Parrett Mountain Farm is a well known charity in north Yamhill County. It’s a 418-acre living history museum.
The foundation has worked to preserve historic houses and buildings on Parrett Mountain and hosts educational events for school children along with historic reenactments and community events.
No one at Parrett Mountain Farm would talk to us.
Leanne Bennett lives on Parrett Mountain and is shocked by the charges. She doesn’t believe Elizabeth Rhode could steal money from the public. Others in the neighborhood say they are not surprised.
Rhode was arraigned Wednesday, but remains in jail on $200,000 bail. Despite this shakeup at Parrett Mountain Farm, an Art Festival scheduled for this weekend at the farm will go on as planned. It’s free to the public.