Bookkeeper charged for embezzling funds |

Bookkeeper charged for embezzling funds

Tim Mutrie

A midvalley bookkeeper who allegedly embezzled some $37,000 from owners of the Aspen Polo Store, was arrested Monday on more than two dozen related charges, according to authorities.

Debra Kay Hartman, 42, of Carbondale, faces three counts of felony theft series and 25 counts of felony forgery related to her alleged activities between late May 1997 and August 1998, according to a warrant filed by Detective Steve Wilson of the Basalt Police Department.

The alleged crimes occurred while she was employed by Silver Plume Inc., operator of the store. A random audit of Silver Plume’s bookkeeping records in November 1998 uncovered some discrepancies in the books as well as several missing canceled checks, according to Wilson’s report. When confronted about the missing checks, Hartman was unable to produce any of the canceled checks or any supporting documentation, according to his report.

Hartman later confessed the scheme to Silver Plume’s co-owner, Keith Schupbach, and informed him of all the checks which she made out to herself, according to Wilson’s report. The accountant who performed the external audit also told Wilson that Hartman gave him a handwritten list of 38 checks totaling about $38,000, which she had misappropriated, according to Wilson’s report.

“Hartman admitted to him she had made the checks payable to herself, recorded fictitious payees and destroyed the canceled checks,” Wilson’s report states.

In his investigation, Wilson discovered that on at least 25 separate occasions, Hartman forged the signatures of Keith and Mary Schupbach, the owners of Silver Plume Inc., his report indicates.

The Schupbachs told Wilson that on occasion, both would pre-sign checks for Hartman for billing purposes, the report said.

In a July interview with Hartman, Wilson said she admitted to signing the Schupbachs’ signatures on checks she made out to herself, which she later deposited into her checking account, according to Wilson’s report. She also told him that she had made no arrangements to pay the Schupbachs back, prior to being fired in January 1999.

Hartman was arrested Monday after turning herself in at the Pitkin County Jail. She bonded out on a $25,000 bond immediately after booking, according to jail officials.

In mid-September, Peter Greer, the former manager of the Aspen Polo Store, pleaded guilty to felony theft in Pitkin County’s 9th Judicial District Court. That charge stemmed from a credit card fraud scheme he employed to obtain upwards of $25,000 in expensive clothing.

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