Judge resentences county embezzler to 9 years in prison
Robin McMillan, who admitted to embezzling public money while she was a Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s Office employee, was resentenced Thursday to one less year in prison following a successful appeal of her 10-year sentence.
Investigators estimate that she stole more than $440,000 of public funds from the clerk’s office. McMillan’s is the second of three recent embezzlement cases out of the Garfield County clerk’s office, but she was accused of stealing the most money.
She had pleaded guilty to charges of theft between $20,000 and $100,000, a class 4 felony, and filing a false tax return, a class 5 felony.
Garfield County Judge Denise Lynch originally sentenced McMillan in June 2015 to 10 years in prison, opting for the aggravated range to achieve this sentence.
But the Colorado Court of Appeals vacated that sentence, finding it to be illegal because McMillan had not been informed that she has a right for a jury to determine whether her case has aggravating circumstances.
The appeals court mandated that Lynch resentence McMillan without the aggravated range.
Ultimately Lynch granted the prosecution’s request and resentenced her to the maximum of that range: nine years in Colorado Department of Corrections.
During the resentencing hearing the prosecution rehashed some elements of the case that the court had already heard: That she told investigators she’d only taken about $50,000; that it had only happened about 10 times; and that she’d used the money for everyday expenses.
“These were in no uncertain terms — lies,” said Deputy District Attorney Matthew Barrett. “Each year she stole more and more money from our community.”
At times she was stealing almost every day she was working, he said.
During the Great Recession, when she was stealing public dollars, she was buying a $47,000 Chevy Camaro, a $46,000 GMC Sierra, an $18,000 Harley-Davidson, a $20,000 camper, a commercial trailer and $85,000 in drag racing parts, as previously reported by the PI.
But since McMillan’s initial sentencing some new pieces of the case have come to light.
In July investigators uncovered $56,000 that the DA’s office says McMillan squirreled away to keep it from being distributed for restitution.
Of that hidden money, $10,000 was found in her husband’s possession, and another $46,000 was discovered in a safe at her son’s Rifle home.
McMillan’s husband committed suicide after this money was seized.
Lynch had previously ordered the Chevrolet to be sold for restitution, and on Thursday the judge said she would sign an order for the $56,000 to also be distributed for restitution.
If by “spending her time wisely” in prison she meant not paying back a dime of what she stole from the taxpayers, and making sure that money was hidden, then she accomplished that, the prosecutor said.
McMillan has done nothing but make her situation worse over the past year when she could have made it much, much better, said Barrett. He described her as bitter, resentful and not deserving of a lighter sentence.
To demonstrate this he played several recordings of phone calls McMillan made from prison.
McMillan, speaking in a phone call with her husband, said Garfield County and the 9th Judicial District are corrupt systems. McMillan said in the phone call that she didn’t do anything that others hadn’t done; she was just the one who got caught.
“I so badly want to tell Judge Lynch to kiss my ass,” McMillan could be heard saying.
Public Defender Elise Myer said that Lynch’s original 10-year sentence sent a message.
“I can tell this court that it caught everyone’s attention,” said Myer, adding that the precedent Lynch set changed the way the public defender’s office advises clients with similar cases.
But the purpose of sending a message had already been achieved, she argued.
“The deterrence is there.”
Arguing for a lighter prison term, Myer said that sentencing McMillan to a lengthy stay in prison would make it even longer before the county can begin getting repaid.
“We know she owes well over half-a-million dollars in restitution,” she said. “She will never pay a dime while in prison.”
The county said that the citizens have been deprived of funds for health, safety and welfare, and the only meaningful way to make reparations is if she can start paying something back, said Myer.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve seen multiple cases of employees stealing from the county, but we will continue to prosecute these cases vigorously,” Barrett said later. “And I hope this sentence will deter others who’re thinking of doing the same.”
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