Ex-Glenwood Springs art center director pleads not guilty to theft
Christina Brusig, former director of the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor theft during her first appearance in Garfield County court Monday. The charge stems from a Glenwood police investigation into the art center’s finances.
Brusig’s misdemeanor trial was also scheduled for two days in May.
The DA’s office filed the misdemeanor charge against 31-year-old Brusig in early November, following an investigation that began shortly after her resignation from the arts center in April.
The Class 1 misdemeanor theft is defined as theft between $750 and $2,000. This misdemeanor is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
Specifics about the allegations against Brusig are still obscure, as the DA and Glenwood Springs police are not releasing any more information about the facts of the case.
Case files typically include an arrest affidavit with a narrative describing the foundation of probable cause for an arrest. However, Brusig was issued a summons to appear on the misdemeanor, which includes no such narrative.
Authorities are keeping the details quiet over concerns about poisoning the jury pool.
Since Brusig’s resignation, the art center has lost its contract with the city of Glenwood Springs and its lease in the city’s old hydroelectric building. Its board and membership has begun to assess how to best move forward.
After forcing Brusig’s resignation as executive director last spring, the art center board quickly discovered that the organization was deeply in debt. City officials got involved and started a months-long investigation into the organization.
The art center board soon announced that it was $68,000 in debt, with only $5,000 in assets. The nonprofit scrambled to assess the damage and reorganize its books, but it couldn’t pay its teachers.
The city soon announced it would pull its $50,000 annual funding for the arts center, but agreed to pay more than $20,000 to art center teachers who had gone months without pay.
The organization was ultimately required to end its contract with the city and vacate its building, which is owned by the city.
In June, an auditor’s report of the art center’s finances raised questions about $20,000 in the organization’s expenses. The report pointed to $4,789 in expenses that it called “likely unauthorized.”
Additionally it indicated another $5,937 that may have been unauthorized and $9,455 in payroll and reimbursements to Brusig that needed more explanation.
Brusig has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing as director of the organization. Her attorney, Sherry Caloia, has said that all expenditures identified in the auditor’s report were approved by the board.
“She’s not guilty. That’s why we’re taking it to trial,” Caloia said after court on Monday. The defense attorney said she did not know if the case would indeed go all the way to trial. “The DA could always dismiss it.”