MARBLE, Colo. - Mayor Robert Pettijohn said he now believes the late town clerk, Karen Mulhall, may have stolen more than twice as much money as previously reported.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation continues to look into allegations that Mulhall embezzled more than $300,000 from this tiny hamlet on the Crystal River while she worked as the town clerk.
Mulhall, formerly of Glenwood Springs, reportedly died under unknown circumstances in the Denver area on Oct. 28, after the investigation into the town's finances had begun.
The investigation, which began in August, was announced to the public in a statement issued by town attorney Marcus J. Lock of Gunnison, dated Nov. 2.
Pettijohn told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent on Tuesday that, while the investigation was initially targeted at $300,000 or so, he now believes Mulhall allegedly embezzled as much as $800,000 during her 18 years of employment as the town clerk.
When asked how that amount of money could have gone unnoticed when the town's annual budget was reported to be about $60,000, Pettijohn said, "She lied about the budget," implying that the town was receiving more revenue than the council was told about.
He said that the alleged embezzlement was uncovered by a bank audit that went back six years. Officials are expecting to learn that the amounts involved were larger than previously believed.
But, he added, the Town Council is hopeful that, if the theft allegations are found to be true, the council will have more money to work with in the future.
"We've been budgeting off of only $60,000," Pettijohn said. "We'll be getting more money than we ever had."
A call to CBI to learn the status of the investigation was not returned Friday.