A woman who once served as the director of a nonprofit group that provides help to at-risk children in Colorado has been accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from the organization. The 42-year-old Durango resident has been served a summons and complaint that alleges she engaged in official misconduct, embezzlement, theft and cybercrime. Official misconduct is a misdemeanor offense. All of the other charges the woman faces are felonies.
Behavior snowballed due to stress
The woman is accused of using a debit card provided by the nonprofit organization to make purchases at clothing stores, liquor stores, gas stations and marijuana dispensaries between 2018 and 2022. According to media reports, the purchases amounted to more than $21,000. She is also accused of taking $800 from a donations jar. When interviewed by detectives, the woman is said to have admitted that no other people had access to the debit cards assigned to her. She also told law enforcement that her behavior snowballed over time because she was under a great deal of personal and professional stress.
While serving as director of the nonprofit organization, the woman had control over matters dealing with budgeting and finance. The case was investigated rigorously because much of the organization’s funding was provided by government grants that do not allow employees to use the money to pay personal expenses. The woman’s alleged white-collar crimes were discovered when she left the organization in April 2022 and a certified public accountant was appointed. The CPA’s suspicions were aroused when a review of the organization’s spending revealed that the organization’s grocery bills rose from about $300 per month to almost $13,000 per month when the woman assumed her duties.
Plea agreement likely
The prosecutors assigned to white-collar crime cases like this one often rely on financial documents, bank records and electronic data to establish guilt. This is compelling evidence, but juries are unpredictable. That is why most cases involving embezzlement, fraud or bribery are resolved by plea agreements. The evidence against this woman appears sound, but a plea deal is likely.