DA: Alleged Aspen embezzler a ‘habitual criminal’
Ryan Summerlin September 7, 2011
EAGLE, Colo. – A Gypsum woman is back in the Eagle County Jail on charges that she stole $27,000 from an Aspen homeowners association.
Brenda Dobbs, 62, made her first appearance last week in Eagle County Court, where she told Judge Katharine Sullivan she would be requesting a public defender.
Dobbs was arrested last month just outside Snowmass Village near Aspen.
Besides the alleged embezzlement in Aspen, Dobbs is being accused of embezzling from an animal shelter in Garfield County and bouncing a rent check for $1,000 in Eagle County.
A detective from Wheat Ridge was in Eagle earlier this week to question her.
Dobbs is being held in the Eagle County Jail on charges of theft and fraud. At the hearing, she requested a public defender. Prosecutors told Judge Sullivan they want Dobbs to be considered a habitual criminal.
Dobbs was sentenced in 2002 to five years in prison for embezzling $530,000 from NSN Services in Gypsum. She was ordered to pay it back as part of that sentence. She didn’t, and that’s part of the reason she’s back in jail, says Mark Hurlbert, district attorney.
“We consider her a habitual criminal because she has so many felony convictions,” Hurlbert said.
She has at least three felony convictions, two in Eagle County and one in Arapahoe County.
“We take this seriously and feel she deserves to go back to prison,” Hurlbert said.
Her bond is set at $522,000 and would have to be paid in cash, as would the $200,000 in other bonds.
Dobbs could have as many as 30 aliases, authorities said.
For the last six months, Dobbs had been working at an Aspen law firm. It was during that time she allegedly stole $27,000 from a homeowners association while working part-time as its bookkeeper, authorities said.
Pitkin County authorities picked up Dobbs after an Aspen police investigator received a tip that Dobbs had stolen money from the homeowners association. She reportedly drained the HOA’s account of all but $1,000 using an ATM card the homeowners association let her use, according to Aspen police.
The HOA froze the account when it became suspicious, police said.
Pitkin County authorities refused to disclose the name of the law firm or the homeowners association.
After her arrest near Snowmass, Dobbs was booked into the Pitkin County Jail, and transferred to the Eagle CountyJail a few hours later, authorities said.
Dobbs has been involved at least nine criminal cases in Colorado, dating back to 1992, according to court records. Her conviction for the NSN embezzlement was Dobbs’ third, her second in Eagle County. In October 2002, she was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to repay the money. She had also been convicted of theft in Arapahoe County.
Her job at NSN was collecting payment from clients.
A 2003 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration accused her of lying on her job time and attendance reports. She was paid $18,564.91 for work she did not perform, the report said. She also ran up $3,152 in cell phone bills, the report says.
Dobbs was working as a secretary for NOAA.