Brinnon thief sent immediately to jail in gold coin case

Posted 7/1/22

A “good deal” became less so for a Brinnon woman convicted of stealing 48 gold Krugerrand coins from the 84-year-old man she’d been working for as a caregiver.

Yolanda Noreen …

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Brinnon thief sent immediately to jail in gold coin case


A “good deal” became less so for a Brinnon woman convicted of stealing 48 gold Krugerrand coins from the 84-year-old man she’d been working for as a caregiver.

Yolanda Noreen Thole, 57, was arrested in November and charged with first-degree theft from a vulnerable adult and first-degree trafficking in stolen property.

Thole admitted her guilt in Jefferson County Superior Court last week after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors. Thole made an Alford plea, in which a defendant maintains innocence of charges but admits a jury would likely find the defendant guilty at trial.

But at Thole’s sentencing Friday in court on a single reduced felony charge — second-degree theft from a vulnerable adult — Judge Keith Harper rejected part of a plea agreement that would have allowed Thole to serve 30 days in jail by way of electronic home monitoring.

The top of standard sentencing range for second-degree theft is
60 days in jail.

“You’ve got a pretty good deal here,” Harper said. “I mean, you ended up with a pretty good plea deal with the prosecutor’s office.”

“To me, this case is really egregious,” he said.

Harper noted he recalled the details of the case, where Thole originally said she had only gotten two gold coins from the victim but then changed her story after an investigation turned up evidence that she had many, many more in her possession.

“You made up another story,” Harper said.

According to court documents, Thole had once worked for the theft victim, also a Brinnon resident, because he was unable to cook for himself and needed help.

While the man said he had once given two of his Krugerrands — 1-ounce coins minted in South Africa that are predominantly purchased by gold investors — to Thole, he later discovered four dozen Krugerrands were missing from the safe in his mobile home.

At the time of the theft, gold was worth $1,839 per ounce, putting the value of the theft at $88,272 at least.

As the investigation continued, a detective found Thole had sold numerous gold coins to a precious metals shop in Port Hadlock, and the owner of the business provided invoices showing Thole had been paid $53,859 during nine sales between January 2019 and March 2020.

The detective later discovered another check for $9,500 to Thole from a gold dealer in Sequim from December 2019.

When confronted by investigators, Thole denied getting more than two coins from the victim, and claimed the victim’s wife had given her the coins. 

During Thole’s sentencing hearing, the judge said he would not agree to electronic home monitoring.

“In the court’s view, this is tragic. And inexcusable,” Harper said.

“The sentence is going to be
30 days in jail,” Harper said, noting that Thole would be credited for five days already served.

Thole would also not be allowed to report to jail at a later date, he said.

“You’ll simply be taken into custody today,” Harper said.

The judge also signed a two-year no-contact order with the victim, and said Thole would be subject to the “pay or appear” program; she must make $50 a month toward restitution and other court costs or show up in court to explain why a payment has not been made.

Harper stressed the sentence may very well have been longer, but deferred to the overall contours of the plea deal.

“I could have easily went beyond 30 days. But since that was what was discussed, I’ll go along with it, albeit a little bit reluctantly,” the judge said.

Harper also said he would like to think that the victim will be repaid the full amount of restitution, and added that would not be enough.

“Even if he gets $20,000 back it’s not near what he lost. I don’t know if anybody will be able to do anything about that,” Harper said.

Lillian Powers, Thole’s court-appointed attorney, said accepting the plea was difficult for Thole, who has been a caregiver for others in the past. 

Powers said Thole, her sister, the victim, and his wife were all neighbors in their RV park. 

“They very much operate as this big family,” Powers said.

Powers also noted that Thole had provided care for the victim’s wife, as well, when she had cancer.

Had the charges gone to trial, Powers added, more information on the case would be brought to light. The circumstances of the care provided to the couple by Thole and their payment arrangement would have been debated, as well as whether coins given to Thole had been gifts or pay.

Prosecutors noted the victim had lived a very frugal life, investing in Krugerrands because he thought his younger wife would outlive him and he wanted her to have a “comfortable nest egg.”

He now has nothing left, and the loss will impact the rest of his life, prosecutors said.

Powers stressed that with Thole accepting the plea agreement, it would affect her day-to-day life.

“I wanted to represent her best interest here today, because this will be a mark on any kind of future employment that she has,” Powers said.

Thole declined to make a statement before she was sentenced.

The judge, however, asked Thole how she planned to pay $20,000 in restitution that was part of the plea agreement.

“How do you think you’re going to do that?” the judge asked.

Thole said she expects to get a job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant, and said anything she earns would go toward restitution.

“Good luck, Ms. Thole,” Harper told her after announcing the sentence. “I hope you’re able to make a big dent in that restitution over time.”


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