Mack sentenced to 50 days in jail in plea deal |

Mack sentenced to 50 days in jail in plea deal

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Former Valley View Hospital employee Lisa Mack, who admitted to stealing approximately $177,000 from another hospital employee, was sentenced on Tuesday to 50 days in jail, eight years of probation and restitution to the victimized employee.

Mack, 43, pleaded guilty earlier this year to two of four counts of felony theft, involving allegations that she stole $226,000 from the hospital and from her daughter-in-law, Michelle Sandel, whom Mack had hired in 2009 to work in the hospital’s finance department.

The thefts allegedly included unauthorized mileage payments, and overpayments of wages to Sandel, as part of a kickback scheme that involved Mack saying she would put money aside to pay Sandel’s taxes.

Mack admitted stealing the money from Sandel, but denied stealing from the hospital. The counts involving the hospital were dropped as part of a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors recommended that she spend 180 days in jail, while the probation department recommended the 180-day jail term be suspended to permit Mack to work and pay off her restitution fee of $177,000.

District Judge James Boyd, acknowledging the defendant’s need to work off her debt, took the middle ground with the sentence to 50 days in jail.

“I’m terribly sorry for everything that’s happened,” Mack told Judge Boyd at the sentencing hearing on Tuesday.

“I do know that what I did was wrong,” she said. “I never intended to not pay Michelle’s taxes.”

According to court documents, Mack, an administrator at VVH, hired Sandel to work as a contractor in the finance department starting at $2,750 per week in 2009 and reaching $3,500 per week in 2011.

Sandel’s contracts, renewed periodically, were for interim business management consulting, a job that involved work in the registration department and other departments.

In court on Tuesday, Mack said, “I did not steal from Valley View Hospital.”

Her attorney, Bill Schubert, maintained that Mack’s only prior criminal charge was for bouncing a check in the 1990s, which was dismissed.

He criticized an audit of the hospital’s financial records prompted by the case against Mack, arguing that the audit did not show the losses that Mack was accused of.

“I think the auditor did a disservice to the hospital,” he said, claiming that the auditor misread the data in the finance reports.

Schubert also criticized the DA’s office for focusing on Mack instead of Sandel’s own bank accounts, which he said showed that Sandel was scrambling to cover her husband’s gambling and travel-related debts. Sandel’s husband, Colin Mack, is Lisa Mack’s stepson.

The plea bargain calls for Mack to pay an estimated $177,000 in restitution to Sandel over the course of the first six years of her probationary sentence, to get Sandel out of arrears with tax authorities. Additional restitution may be included at a later date, once actual amounts for Sandel’s 2010 tax liability are known, according to testimony in court.

Although Schubert asked the judge to give Mack until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to report to the jail, Boyd declined and had her taken directly out of the courtroom by a deputy.

Had Mack been convicted on all four counts, she could have faced up to 96 years in prison and fines of up to $750,000.

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