Anderson Ranch sues bookkeeper |

Anderson Ranch sues bookkeeper

Rick CarrollThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado
Marlana Lu Howell

ASPEN – Anderson Ranch Arts Center filed suit Friday against an ex-bookkeeper currently serving a four-year prison sentence for embezzling more than $700,000 from the Snowmass Village nonprofit. Financial services firm Morgan Stanley Smith Barney is also a defendant in the lawsuit, filed in Pitkin County District Court.The suit, made public Monday, comes one year after District Judge James Boyd sentenced Marlana Lu Howell, 51, to the Department of Corrections on Aug. 2, 2010. She’ll be eligible for parole in March 2012, according to the DOC. Snowmass police arrested Howell in June 2009 after Anderson Ranch’s assistant controller unmasked her scheme, by which she would make separate wire transfers from Anderson Ranch’s accounts to her personal bank accounts. The crime took place over a period of 16 months – from April 2008 through July 2009.Howell made $364,999 in transfers from an Anderson Ranch trust to her personal bank account during that same period, the lawsuit says. And from February 2007 through January 2008, Howell made $321,598 in transfers from Anderson Ranch’s Morgan Stanley account to her personal bank account, the suit alleges.The lawsuit makes five claims for relief against Howell: deceit based on fraudulent concealment, breach of fiduciary duties, breach of contract, conversion and civil theft.The suit cites Morgan Stanley for breach of contract, negligence, and breach of covenant of implied good faith and fair dealing. It says the firm should not have allowed Howell to transfer Morgan Stanley account funds to her bank account because she wasn’t authorized to do so. The lawsuit asks the court to order Howell “to immediately return all funds of Anderson Ranch funds and other property currently in her possession.”During her criminal case, it was determined that Howell bilked $736,000 from Anderson Ranch, which was able to recoup nearly $600,000 from various banks and trusts that Howell used in her scheme. Boyd also ordered her to pay $178,548 in restitution. According to the lawsuit’s allegations, Howell embezzled approximately $686,000 from Anderson Ranch’s two accounts – $50,000 less than the criminal court’s calculations. Garfield & Hecht attorney David Lenyo, who filed the suit, was not available for immediate comment

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