CBI investigating possible $300,000 embezzlement in Marble

John ColsonPost Independent Aspen, CO Colorado

MARBLE, Colo. – An investigation is under way into the possible embezzlement of more than $300,000 from the coffers of Marble, a tiny hamlet in Gunnison County, and investigators have named the late Karen Buchanan Mulhall as a suspect in the alleged crime.A press release from town attorney Marcus J. Lock of Gunnison, dated Nov. 2, confirmed that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation is investigating the matter and that Mulhall was a suspect.Marble Mayor Robert Pettijohn said town officials are unable to discuss the matter, other than the letter from Lock, while the investigation is under way.Pettijohn confirmed that Mulhall, who was dismissed as the town clerk earlier this year, was found dead in Denver on Oct. 28. The circumstances have yet to be made public. Lock’s press release also stated that Mulhall had recently passed away.The position of town clerk was turned over in September to longtime Crystal River Valley resident Ron Leach, who also is the fire chief for the Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District, the mayor said.According to Lock’s statement, the investigation began around Aug. 21 when Alpine Bank contacted the town about financial irregularities in the town of Marble’s bank account.The Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation into the possible embezzlement of town funds, and then turned the investigation over to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation under the direction of Agent John Zamora.The town’s insurer, the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA), also began an investigation. CIRSA hired forensic accountant Paul L. DeBoer of RGL Forensics of Greenwood Village, who determined that the loss likely exceeds $300,000, according to Lock’s statement.”The actual total amount of the loss is currently unknown,” according to the statement.Pettijohn said the town’s annual budget is about $60,000, or approximately one fifth of the suspected amount being investigated.The statement noted that the town’s Board of Trustees is “committed to recovering as much of the loss as possible and is currently exploring multiple avenues of recovery.”In addition, according to the statement, “The Board of Trustees intends to implement policies designed to prevent a recurrence of similar conduct in the future.”Marble is located high in the Crystal River Valley, south of