Harbormaster arrested for alleged theft

Sheriff deputies arrested Langley’s new harbormaster Wednesday afternoon for allegedly stealing money from the cash fare box at the Langley marina.

Eric C. Lambour, 33, of Clinton, was booked on a second-degree felony theft charge at Island County Jail in Coupeville and released on his own recognizance.

Lambour was arrested at work. He was immediately fired after his arrest, said Langley Mayor Neil Colburn.

Colburn said the theft would lead to a review of how the city runs the boat harbor.

“We’re just going to take a whole new look at the way we’re operating the harbor,” Colburn said.

Workers at city hall were the first to notice something amiss with the marina receipts, said Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley.

About a month ago, the city clerk noticed fewer dollars coming in from slip rentals at the marina, Hawley said.

“She just noticed for some reason that the cash was dropping off,” Hawley said.

“It almost looked like a 25-percent drop over previous years, during the same time,” he said.

Langley started an investigation into the declining receipts, but the sheriff’s office was brought in when it looked like a Langley city employee was involved.

Hawley said work was still ongoing to determine the actual amount of money taken.

It could range between $500 to several thousand dollars, he said.

“I believe we have a strong case here,” Hawley said. “He either pleads guilty or goes to trial.”

Lambour has talked with police about the missing funds.

“He did make a statement, but I can’t go into it,” Hawley said.

Boaters who moor at Langley harbor have traditionally paid fees using the honor system; they put a check or cash in envelopes provided at a pay station next to the marina’s main walk-up ramp. After paying 50 cents per foot of boat length, and $3 for a power hookup, visitors drop the payment envelope into a red lockbox at the pay station.

Lambour was hired in early June. He replaced Ben Reams, who resigned as harbormaster May 12.

A background check was conducted on Lambour, Colburn said.

“No alarm bells went off,” Colburn said.

Hawley said Lambour does not have a criminal record. That, and his ties to the community, were reasons why he was booked and released.

Colburn praised clerk-treasurer Debbie Mahler and Rick Hill, public works director, for catching the theft quickly.

The harbormaster works in the public works department, and reports directly to the public works director.

“It does show that because we have a good staff, warning bells went off and close scrutiny was given to the numbers,” Colburn said. “That part of the system worked.”

Attempts to reach Lambour for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.

Colburn said the city cooperated fully with the sheriff’s office on the investigation.

Langley will now explore options for filling the harbormaster position. The city’s public works and police departments will provide basic services to visiting boaters in the meantime.

“We’ve got a ton of other issues we’ve got to keep our focus on,” Colburn said. “We’ll add the marina to our high-priority list to get somebody down there as quickly as possible, both to protect the boaters’ and the city’s interest.”

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