Alleged embezzler appears in court
The ex-Aspen Valley Land Trust bookkeeper charged with embezzling more than $100,000 from her former employer was formally advised of the charges against her Wednesday.Carman T. Andrews, 34, of Missouri Heights is accused of using her position as bookkeeper of the land trust to steal from the organization.Prosecutor Lawson Wills said she is suspected of embezzling $105,000 from the land trust, which acquires land and conservation easements that prohibit development throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and, recently, in the Colorado River Valley. Aspen Valley Land Trust is the oldest and one of the largest conservancies in Colorado. It’s participated in several high-profile projects around Aspen, such as brokering deals that helped keep the Independence ghost town in public hands, as well as the Ryan parcel near Ashcroft.Andrews appeared before Magistrate Daniel Petrie of the 9th District yesterday afternoon. Andrews, represented by Basalt attorney Dan Shipp, was arrested by Carbondale police on May 19. Wednesday, she was charged with three counts of felony theft. She could face up to 24 years in prison.Wills said while it’s possible his office and Andrews could reach a plea agreement by her next court date on Aug. 19, a deal is unlikely. “We’ll talk and maybe we can reach a deal, but this is a big situation,” Wills said. Cochran told The Aspen Times that her organization discovered the alleged embezzlement on April 15. It appears activities were taking place “for about a year, in varying degrees of severity,” she said.Cochran told the Times that she suspects a fake bank account was created, checks were forged and unauthorized electronic transfers were made. Cochran claimed that a stamp of her signature was created without her knowledge.No other employees were implicated.Andrews’ next court date will be in front of Judge T. Peter Craven of the 9th District.
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