Woman gets eight years’ probation for embezzlement
A woman who kept the books at Aspen Valley Land Trust and embezzled $105,000 from the nonprofit, was sentenced Thursday to 30 days in the county jail and eight years’ probation.Before she was sentenced, Carman T. Andrews, 34, of Missouri Heights, apologized to the court and to AVLT director Martha Cochran, who was in the courtroom.Andrews pleaded guilty to two counts of felony theft in June. She could have faced 24 years in the state penitentiary.While working as a bookkeeper for AVLT, Andrews used company credit cards and forged company checks to buy skis, airline tickets, hotel rooms and a wedding ring. She also used the money to promote her own real estate company. The thefts occurred in late 2003 and early 2004. She was arrested on May 19.Deputy District Attorney Martin Beeson argued for three years’ probation and 90 days in the county jail for each count, with the terms to be served consecutively. Although a first-time offender, Andrews’ “prolonged, calculated and systematic scheme” warranted the sentence, Beeson said.AVLT director Martha Cochran and the organization’s board of directors in a letter to the court asked that Andrews not be sentenced to the Department of Corrections in Cañon City, but serve time in the county jail and pay back the money she stole.District Judge T. Peter Craven, in handing down the sentence, warned Andrews, “I have to be very candid, for people in your chair, only six percent make restitution … Given the manner in which you disposed of the money, if you don’t make restitution, you’ll do hard time.”Rather than serving time in Garfield County Jail, Andrews could be remanded to Cañon City.She must also serve 300 hours of public service, make full restitution to AVLT and undergo psychotherapy.Andrews’ attorney Walter Gerash of Denver, famed for his defense of civil rights activists and anti-war and anti-nuclear protesters, made an impassioned plea for leniency.He characterized Andrews, who was born in Sweden and immigrated to the United States at 16, as “a woman who came from hell to see her mother murdered by her father” when she was 10 years old.Because of her early childhood trauma, Gerash said, she feels responsible in some way for the murder and battles self-destructive behavior. But he added that she is seeing a psychiatrist and that “with the proper therapy she will not repeat” her crime.”I’ve never had a case where a victim said they don’t want incarceration, but want their money back,” he added, referring to AVLT’s letter to the court.Gerash, dressed in a black pinstriped suit, black shirt and bolo tie, also spoke of the father of Andrews’ daughter, who was present in the courtroom, and was willing to take custody of the child. A jail sentence would give the father a chance “to come in and grab the child. It would be a disaster,” Gerash said.Cochran said she was glad to have the case settled and was pleased with the outcome.”I think it was fair. It’s unfortunate on all accounts. I think the DA did a great job and that everyone was trying to do the right thing and make the best of a bad situation,” she said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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