GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Brenda Caywood, a former employee of the Garfield County Clerk and Recorders’ office, pleaded guilty on Thursday to a single count of theft from the office’s cash drawers.
Caywood, 52, was arrested in September 2012 after an internal investigation revealed that she had allegedly stolen nearly $16,000 in connection with vehicle-related transactions between the public and the clerk’s office.
Caywood, of Glenwood Springs, had worked at the clerk’s office since 2007.
A bookkeeper in the office reportedly discovered money missing from the office accounts on Nov. 17, 2011, and Caywood was placed on administrative leave the next day. County Clerk and Recorder Jean Alberico was planning to send Caywood a letter of termination when Caywood resigned on Nov. 28.
Prosecutors alleged that Caywood stole from the clerk’s office on 58 separate occasions, starting in May 2010 and continuing until early November 2011.
In some of the cases, according to prosecutors, the thefts involved confusion among members of the public regarding the payment of taxes on vehicles purchased from dealerships, which are assessed against residents in cities but not against residents who live outside of municipal boundaries.
According to the clerk’s office, the normal practice is for the office to send back any improperly paid taxes to the car dealer, so that the dealer can then reimburse the customers.
But prosecutors say Caywood would fraudulently mingle outgoing tax repayment checks with cash vehicle registration payments from multiple customers, and then steal the cash equivalent of the overcollection amounts.
Caywood was charged with four separate counts, a blend of felonies and misdemeanors, based on the amounts she allegedly stole during different months between 2010 and 2011.
She pleaded guilty to a fifth count, which was added by the District Attorney’s Office as an incentive in the plea bargaining process. That count was for attempted theft in a series, a class five felony.
Under Colorado’s sentencing laws, in what is known as the “presumptive range,” she faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
If District Judge Denise Lynch finds there were either mitigating or aggravating circumstances, her prison sentence could be as low as six months or as high as six years, respectively.
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 1.
Caywood is free on a $2,500 bond.