Embezzlement suspect pleads not guilty
October 12, 2007
EAGLE, Colo. ” A Leadville woman accused of stealing $1.1 million and who later attempted suicide with her daughter pleaded not guilty to two felonies Wednesday, authorities said.
Debra Irwin embezzled the money since at least 1999 from Edwards real estate firm Altima Group, said owner Susan Rollins.
“She has a right to plead and do whatever she wants. When it goes to trial, the truth will come out,” said Rollins, adding that Altima Group is “as strong as ever.”
Irwin spent the money on vacations and expenses for Altima Group, said Jim Fahrenholtz, Irwin’s attorney.
“Everything that she has alleged to have done, she had authorization to do it from the owner of the company,” he said.
“We certainly believe that they won’t prove her guilty,” Fahrenholtz said.
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Prosecutors have the evidence to prove Irwin’s guilt, Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said. Hurlbert declined to elaborate on the evidence.
“I want to make sure she gets a fair trial,” Hurlbert said.
Irwin and her daughter Maureen Irwin, who also worked for Rollins, attempted suicide April 13 when police came to arrest Debra Irwin for her role in the alleged embezzlement scheme, according to a Leadville Police Department report.
Police were en route to arrest Irwin when a man reported that he found her and her daughter unconscious on the couch, said Sheriff Ed Holte of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
Carlos Ray Martinez, of Leadville, found the women after Maureen Irwin left him a telephone message apologizing “for what she had done,” the report stated.
Police found pills and razor blades on a table and the women lying unconscious on the couch, the report stated.
Irwin’s son, Patrick, also worked for Rollins, Rollins said.
In November 2005, Rollins fired all three Irwins. Patrick and Maureen Irwin have not been charged with a crime, said Detective Doug Winters of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
Debra Irwin posted a $25,000 bond and was released from the Eagle County Jail April 24, the same day she was arrested.
Wednesday, Irwin pleaded not guilty to theft and unauthorized use of a financial transaction device, authorities said.
Irwin’s trial is set for Jan. 22 to 25, authorities said. If convicted, Irwin could be ordered to pay back the money, Hurlbert said.