Ex-Glenwood arts chief Brusig charged with misdemeanor theft
The former executive director of the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts was issued a summons Friday on misdemeanor theft, concluding months of investigation into the organization’s finances following her resignation in April.
Christina Brusig, 31, of Rifle, is scheduled to appear in Garfield County Court on Dec. 4 on Class 1 misdemeanor theft, Glenwood Police Chief Terry Wilson said in a three-sentence news release early Friday evening. Statute defines Class 1 misdemeanor theft as theft of between $750 and $2,000, which is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
In January, the art center board confronted Brusig with numerous staff concerns, including of her management of the nonprofit’s finances. Eventually the board told her that she could either resign or be terminated, according to Kate McRaith, the former art center board president.
McRaith said in August that Brusig had consistently presented a positive picture of the organization’s finances, so the board never doubted it. But after her departure in early April, the board started finding the hard numbers on the art center’s debt and unpaid bills.
The board said in late April that the operation owed $68,000, but had only $5,000 in assets. The books were in disarray, and the art center couldn’t pay its teachers. The city of Glenwood Springs soon announced it was pulling its $50,000 annual funding for the arts center. The nonprofit began negotiating with the city to try to remain intact.
An audit completed in June found $4,789 in “likely unauthorized” expenses, another $5,937 in expenses that may have been unauthorized, and $9,455 worth of payroll and other reimbursements to Brusig that auditors said required further explanation.
Auditors said financial oversight was lacking: “it seems unlikely the center had sufficient internal controls to limit any potential misappropriation of funds prior to deposit,” it said, adding: “any cash payments for center services can be considered to have an inherently high risk of misappropriation.”
District Attorney Jeff Cheney has been studying the case since the audit was completed. He could not be reached for comment Friday.
Brusig told the Post Independent at the time that all the expenses detailed in the auditor’s report had been approved by the board.
The city ended up agreeing to pay art center teachers more than $20,000 after they’d gone for months without pay. That agreement, however, required the art center to end its contract with the city and vacate the city’s former hydroelectric building by year’s end.
In an unrelated matter, Brusig pleaded guilty in April to felony check fraud in Eagle County District Court in exchange for a deferred sentence.
She was charged with check fraud in January after her landlords, an Eagle couple, reported that she had written them about $18,000 in bad checks after going about nine months without paying rent.
Per the deferred sentence, if she successfully completes two years’ probation and pays restitution in that time, her guilty plea will be withdrawn and the case dismissed, prosecutors said.