Bookkeeper pleads not guilty to charges |

Bookkeeper pleads not guilty to charges

A former bookkeeper for the Fraternal Order of Eagles has pleaded not guilty to two counts of theft for allegedly embezzling at least $14,543 and will go to trial in August.Donna Lynn Matthews, 46, formerly of New Castle, was arrested in Las Vegas on April 27.Matthews’ case has been continued a number of times to give the Eagles Lodge time to assemble forged checks she allegedly wrote while working for the organization. On Thursday, 9th District Court Judge James Boyd set the trial for Aug. 18-24.According to police reports, Matthews pocketed some of the money collected at weekly Eagles meetings, reported false deposits and wrote checks to herself on the organization’s bank account.Matthews also allegedly emptied the account and fled to Vegas, causing one employee’s paycheck to bounce. Eagles members reportedly became concerned about missing funds and discovered a pattern of false deposits. Police also reported that Matthews was writing checks from the bank account of John Chiodo, who rented her a room in his trailer.Eagles members said they found checks for $50 each from Chiodo underneath the blotter in her office at the Eagles Lodge. The checks were written to the lodge, although Chiodo told police he had never written a check to the Eagles. She allegedly opened several credit card accounts in his name.In other recent court proceedings, a trial for Jennifer Ryan has been postponed until June 14. It was originally scheduled for April 5-7. Ryan faces charges of possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Ryan, 22, contends that she and her husband, Gene Brownlee, 34, believed they were permitted to grow it because Brownlee has terminal cancer. Ryan is certified as a medical marijuana caregiver.Ryan, Brownlee, his nephew Justin Brownlee and Drew Gillespie, both 19, were arrested Aug. 2 at Brownlee and Ryan’s apartment at 545 Park Ave. in Rifle, after the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team staked out the house for three days.According to the affidavit to obtain a search warrant, the owner of the apartment building gave a caretaker at the apartment building permission to enter Brownlee and Ryan’s residence when he smelled a chemical odor coming out of a dryer vent on the outside of the building. Upon entering the ground floor of the apartment, the caretaker saw more than 100 marijuana plants in various stages of growth, many of which were up to 4 feet high.Ryan’s attorney, Kris Hammond, of Steamboat Springs, asked Boyd to reset the trail date because various witnesses were not available for the April trail.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext.

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