Diane Graf gets probation for stealing from Glenwood Hot Springs

John Colson
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A woman who admitted stealing money from the till while working at the Hot Springs Lodge and Pool was sentenced on Tuesday to two years’ probation.

Diane M. Graf, 45, also was directed to put in 60 hours of “useful public service,” pay court costs and fines, and to pay an unknown amount of restitution to the management of the Hot Springs Lodge and Pool.

Graf was arrested on Nov. 19, 2012, following an investigation by her employers, who had reported their suspicions to police on Oct. 15, 2012.

Although the case appeared headed for trial in May, she subsequently agreed to plead guilty to two of the counts against her, one a felony for stealing more than $1,000, and the other a misdemeanor for stealing less than $1,000.

In Graf’s sentencing hearing on Tuesday before District Judge James Boyd, Graf’s attorney, Garth McCarty, told the judge his client had worked for the business for 11 years and, over that time, the only raise she received in her salary was for $1.10.

McCarty conceded that this should not be viewed as a justification for stealing more than $3,800, which is what her employers accused her of.

But, McCarty said, such a realization on Graf’s part was “the planting of a seed in someone’s head, that being, ‘My employer is kind of stealing from me.’”

He said Graf started stealing sodas and other small items at first, then moved on to not ringing up purchases and pocketing the cash, and searching the day’s receipts for transactions rung in by other employees, which she could void and then pocket the cash instead.

All the time, he said, she was figuring, “They’re not going to miss that.”

But then, said McCarty, speaking on behalf of his client, “It became sort of a ritual, like taking a piece of candy out of the candy jar” when no one is watching, and the thefts went on for a matter of months.

“It is easier to suppress the shame, the wrongness of the action, when it’s a little bit at a time,” McCarty argued, adding that her thefts were isolated to this one employer and that she now recognizes it “as something that was wrong.”

McCarty maintained that Graf had not stolen as much money as she is charged with, and that the company’s accounting department simply noticed that she was voiding purchases more than any other employee and concluded that any purchase voided by her was another theft.

The $3,800, McCarty said, is “way beyond the actual amount taken by Ms. Graf.”

She actually was only caught red-handed in two instances, McCarty said, as well as in a “sting” operation set up by the company.

After Graf indicated she was too nervous to address the judge directly, McCarty said for her that she has “worked with money” at other businesses since her arrest, and that “there have been no issues of any kind,” indicating that the employers were happy with Graf’s work.

Judge Boyd, before pronouncing sentence, told Graf that she obviously is smart enough and skillful enough to be a “high achiever,” and added, “You didn’t need the money. So it becomes puzzling why you did these things.”

Noting that longtime employees generally become trusted employees who endure less oversight than newer employees, Boyd continued, “It appears here that you were a trusted employee who took advantage of that trust. You’re going to have to find a better way to deal with that.”

The judge granted two years of a deferred judgement and sentence for the felony charge in the case, meaning if Graf stays out of trouble for two years, and completes the conditions of the two years of probation she received for the misdemeanor charge in the case, the felony conviction will be expunged from her record.

A final hearing in the case, to determine how much restitution Graf owes to her former employer, will take place on Sept. 3.

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