As Robin McMillan told police about details of theft from the Garfield County Clerk’s Office by co-worker Brenda Caywood, McMillan was stealing the public’s money herself, their respective arrest affidavits indicate.
The documents say McMillan continued getting away with stealing much larger amounts than Caywood for two more years.
McMillan, 51, of Rifle, was arrested on Aug. 5 and told police she’d been taking money from the office since 2009, explaining that she did it because it was easy. A preliminary investigation indicated she took $194,603.50 in 2013 and 2014 alone, documents say, with the prior years’ losses still being tallied.
Caywood, now 54, of Glenwood, was arrested in August 2012 and ultimately pleaded guilty to stealing $15,919.12 in 2010 and 2011. She was sentenced to two years’ probation, 60 hours of community service, and $19.422.20 in restitution — the estimated theft plus 8 percent interest.
Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico told the Post Independent last week that she discovered the discrepancies in Caywood’s case.
The affidavit records a summary of transactions in which Caywood pocketed tax overpayments and created bogus transactions. On several occasions, she deposited unnecessary sales tax from a New Castle car dealership.
McMillan, then serving as the motor vehicle supervisor, was part of the internal audit. She was there when Glenwood Springs detective Matthew Gronbeck sat down with Alberico to discuss the situation.
“Jean told me that the suspect, Brenda Caywood ... had been employed at her office since 2007,” Gronbeck wrote in his affadavit. “She said Robin discovered money was missing on 11/17/2011. Robin provided me a summary of how the thefts would occur.”
That includes using checks with sales tax that should have been returned to cover cash thefts, referred to in the affidavit as “force balancing.” At the time, there were few measures in place to prevent such activity.
“Because there was no internal auditing/daily checks taking place to immediately recognize this activity occurring, Brenda was able to hide this activity until Robin went through the transaction logs and found it,” the affidavit reads.
Alberico said she has no reason to believe that the two cases were directly related. The transactions occurred at Caywood’s desk and the money was taken in a different way than McMillan is accused of doing. Instead of embezzling taxes, McMillan is alleged to have altered the spreadsheet that tracks the daily cash drawers.
As such, she wasn’t caught when the clerk’s office checked for other employees using schemes like Caywood’s.
“We made numerous changes and tightened up a lot of processes,” Alberico said.
The office has implemented a number of additional controls in the wake of McMillan’s arrest. Alberico called the situation “very difficult,” particularly given McMillan’s rank and decade with the clerk — longer than Alberico herself.
Alberico, a Democrat, first took office in 2007. She is running unopposed this year for a third term.
“When you have someone in a position of trust, you don’t micromanage everything they do,” Alberico said.