Former Summit Association of Realtors CEO pleads guilty to theft
The former Summit Association of Realtors CEO, Sue Frank, on Monday pleaded guilty to felony theft after embezzling more than $415,000 from the nonprofit organization.
Frank, 62, was in charge of the company from 1996 until her arrest in December 2014. She faces up to seven years in prison and must make up for all financial losses to the association, which total more than $415,000 in forged checks and unauthorized transfers into her personal bank account. The association declined to comment on Frank’s guilty plea.
During Monday’s hearing, Frank paused before admitting to using the stolen funds for her personal benefit, according to a 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office news release. Board members discovered Frank was embezzling funds when the association’s president noticed Frank transferred $100,000 from the group’s Edward Jones account into her personal account, using checks with former association board of directors chairman Andrew Biggin’s signature.
According to the arrest affidavit, Biggin examined the checks, noting that the signature was not identical to his own. The memo line on the checks indicated they were for personal or short-term loans, which the association does not make.
Court documents show Frank deposited three checks of $58,000, $78,000 and $96,000 into her FirstBank Breckenridge account in November 2014. Biggin later discovered she also deposited more than $183,000 in checks on June 17, July 25, Aug. 11 and Oct. 29.
“The many recent cases of financial abuse in this and neighboring communities is stunning. We encourage all organizations to review and strengthen financial controls, protecting against theft and embezzlement,” district attorney Bruce Brown said in a statement. “These theft cases are of increasing frequency and magnitude, indicating that deceitful employees see an easy mark and craft mechanisms to get their hands on money. Business owners have to use the utmost care in making sure that the people they trust, are indeed trustworthy.”
Frank was first arrested by the Dillon Police Department on Dec. 2, 2014. While Frank bonded out later that day, she was arrested again when investigators discovered that she had taken steps to prevent the tracing and return of the stolen money, including transferring a portion of the funds overseas.
A $250,000 bond was set after Frank’s second arrest, and she was charged with one count of theft between $100,000 and $1,000,000, seven counts of identity theft, seven counts of forgery and seven counts of criminal impersonation.
Frank’s sentencing will take place in Summit County District Court on May 19, at which time the length of her prison term will be determined.
The association’s financial documents show that in 2013, Frank’s salary was $101,842. The nonprofit made more than $350,000 in total revenue, with total assets exceeding $1,500,000.
SAR currently has 705 members consisting of real estate agents and affiliates, who pay annual dues in exchange for resources to serve their respective businesses.
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Current owners, struggling with declining breakfast customers and staffing, hope to sell the iconic restaurant near the entrance to Carbondale.