GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Erin Pressler of New Castle, accused of embezzling at least $100,000 from the Designer Door Hardware business over three years, also is facing a civil lawsuit filed by the same business.
But the civil suit has been put on hold while the Ninth Judicial District Court determines Pressler's guilt or innocence concerning 57 counts against her.
According to prosecutors, Pressler, 43, stole the money by using company debit cards, and company checks, for her own personal needs, starting in 2009 and ending in 2012.
She was first charged with three counts - theft, identity theft and forgery - in June 2012, and in October 2012 then-District Attorney Martin Beeson added 54 more charges based on an audit of the company's finances.
Of the added charges, eight were for theft of between $1,000 and $20,000. The rest were either identity theft or forgery charges.
The civil case was filed by Designer Door Hardware owner Jim Pribil in August 2012, in what Pribil said probably is a futile attempt to get his money back.
He said the audits have added to the amount Pressler is accused of taking, noting, "It looks like it's up to $180,000 now."
The attorneys in the suit - Tom Silverman representing Pressler and Chad Barsness representing Pribil - agreed that the civil case should be delayed until after the criminal case has been concluded, after Silverman argued that any statements Pressler made in the civil trial could be unfairly used against her in the criminal trial.
The initial deadline for that delay, March 15, has passed without further judicial action in either the civil case or the criminal case, and Pribil said on Wednesday about the civil suit, "It's kind of pending."
Referring generally to the experience with Pressler, Pribil remarked, "I trust people too much. It was pretty devastating."
He explained that Pressler, hired as bookkeeper just three weeks after the company opened its doors in 2009, had basic control of the company's finances and seemed to be a friendly member of the workforce.
But early in 2012, Pribil said, he told Pressler that he had some concerns about the company's bank balance.
"With a million and a half a year in sales, and a 40 percent markup (profit margin), there should be $200,000 in the bank," he recalled saying. "And there's not. There's $40,000."
In May 2012, Pressler quit her job after she and Pribil argued after he accused her of personal use of company computers, according to court documents.
Within a week Pribil had contacted the Garfield County Sheriff's Office, which launched an investigation that lead to the criminal charges.
Pressler, who is free on bond, is due in court on May 2.