CEO accused of stealing $415k from realty group | AspenTimes.com

CEO accused of stealing $415k from realty group

Ben Trollinger
Summit Daily News

Sue Ann Frank, the longtime chief executive officer of the Summit Association of Realtors, was arrested Tuesday and charged with felony theft and forgery by the Dillon Police Department.

According to the arrest affidavit, Frank stole more than $415,000 from the association, a not-for-profit she has led for nearly 20 years, by forging checks and making unauthorized fund transfers.

She declined to comment on the charges. Frank was hired to lead the association in 1996. At the time, she was touted as a reformer who would clean up an organization that had recently fired a CEO caught embezzling funds. Frank was lauded for her efforts to clean up messy financial records and fix a dysfunctional billing system

However, on Tuesday, Andrew Biggin, a member of Summit Association of Realtors board of directors and a past association president, told police he had recently discovered Frank had forged his signature on three checks totaling $232,000.

On Nov. 11, 18 and 28, Frank deposited checks in the amounts of $58,000, $78,000 and $96,000, respectively, into her personal account at FirstBank in Breckenridge, according to the arrest affidavit.

Biggin later learned from bank employees that she had also deposited checks into her account on June 17, July 25, Aug. 11 and Oct. 29, totaling more than $183,000. Biggin was first alerted to the suspicious bank transactions by the association's president, who said Frank had recently transferred $100,000 with authorization from the association's Edward Jones account into her own personal account at FirstBank.

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Biggin told police that he recognized Frank's signature on the endorsement line. He said the memo on the checks said the funds were for personal or short-term loans. However, Biggin said the Realtor association does not make loans. Additionally, he told police the signature on the checks appeared to be similar to his, but was not. Biggin did not return a phone call seeking comment.

At around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Biggin and a Dillon police officer went to interview Frank at the association's offices on Lake Dillon Drive. However, the portion of the arrest affidavit detailing that interview has been blacked out by the District Attorney's Office, which says it is withholding the information due to the nature of the ongoing investigation.

Frank was booked into Summit County Jail at around 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. She bonded out later that evening. The bond had been set at $15,000 and stipulated that she not leave the state.

"The allegations against Ms. Frank come on the heels of two other high-profile embezzlement cases in the Fifth Judicial District," District Attorney Bruce Brown said in a written statement. "We would hope that the blatant thefts by these employees would set an example for others, but that's not always the case. However, anyone considering embezzlement from his or her employer should note that these thefts always, always come to light eventually and carry very stiff penalties."

The two cases Brown referenced are those of Henry Kunter, who is serving eight years in community corrections after attempting to steal from the Eagle Valley Rotary Club, and Dawna Foxx, who is serving five years in prison for her theft from the Breckenridge Film Festival.

On Wednesday, an email was sent out to association members that said: "Effective immediately, Sue Frank has been removed from her position as CEO of the Summit Association of REALTORS. Association leadership had just become aware of suspicious transactions and checks written on the Association's account. Law enforcement authorities were notified on December 2, 2014. Law enforcement promptly conducted their own investigation, and placed Ms. Frank under arrest the same day. The Association's Board of Directors, in consultation with legal counsel, is arranging for an orderly transition and continuity in the Association's operations. Due to the circumstances, the Gatsby RPAC Fundraiser party has been canceled. We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused."

According to records filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Frank pulled in an annual salary of just less than $100,000.

Filings from 2012 for the 501(c)(6) — a tax code designation for not-for-profit business organizations such as the National Football League — show that the Summit Association of Realtors had total assets in excess of $1.4 million and about $300,000 in annual revenue.

Frank is scheduled for her first court appearance in Summit County on Feb. 4 at 1:30 p.m.

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