Felony theft nets Glenwood woman 12 years in prison
Aspen, CO, Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Shawnee Ryan was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison after her conviction on seven counts of felony theft for bilking clients in her interior-design business.
Still to be determined in a future hearing is the amount of restitution she will owe. The District Attorney’s Office is asking for more than $57,000, although Ryan’s victims have maintained that she stole far more than that from them.
Ryan, 55, has been in custody in the Garfield County Jail since Sept. 6, when she could no longer post a bond. During the sentencing hearing, she asked District Judge Denise Lynch to allow her to pay an appeal bond so she could stay out of prison while planning her appeal, but the judge denied the request.
Ryan was convicted in an August jury trial of misrepresenting herself as an interior designer and swindling as many as 40 customers and suppliers out of thousands of dollars in cash and goods.
Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bryan, in laying out her justification for seeking the maximum sentence, told the court, “Shawnee Ryan is a con artist who preys on unsuspecting, trusting victims.” Bryan said Ryan then harassed and intimidated her victims into fearful silence about the thefts.
“She’s gone through most of her life lying,” Bryan said, noting that Ryan is believed to have used her own children’s identities to hide her thefts and avoid detection.
“That shows the pattern of deception at every single stage of this case,” Bryan said.
She said news accounts of the trial have brought letters from more victims than were earlier identified.
“What the court heard at trial was really just the tip of the iceberg. Her behavior can only be described as pathological and sociopathic,” Bryan said.
One of Ryan’s victims, Deborah Thomas, owner of Illumination Designs in Grand Junction, testified Thursday that she was ripped off for $15,000 in 2008.
Thomas said when she asked Ryan for repayment, “She was blaming me for her owing me money.”
Voicing a complaint common to many of Ryan’s victims, Thomas said when she pursued the matter, Ryan “slandered me … calling me a methamphetamine-convicted addict (and posting) thousands of pages of libel on the Internet.”
In fact, Thomas said, she scarcely ever had even a traffic ticket, outside of $100 in parking tickets for the days she spent in the Garfield County Courthouse attending Ryan’s trial in August.
Ryan represented herself at the sentencing hearing, having fired her latest attorney, Kathy Goudy of Carbondale, over unspecified complaints.
Ryan called the last two years of legal entanglements “a nightmare” and at one point complained, “I cannot even have my family in court with me today, because I am protecting them, against Ms. Thomas.”
She also told the judge, “My family and I are so happy that we are out of the hands of this court,” referring to her plans to file an appeal before the Colorado Court of Appeals.
Along with the 12-year prison sentence, Ryan will be on parole for six years following her release.
She could have faced up to 42 years in prison under the state’s sentencing guidelines.
But because of a quirk in how the relevant statutes were written, Bryan said, three of the charges were lumped together for a possible sentence of up to six years, and the remaining four charges were combined for another sentence of up to six years.
Ryan also was charged in September 2010 with check fraud and violating bail bonds conditions, after she was arrested for allegedly bouncing a check while on bail awaiting trial on the theft charges. That case is still awaiting trial.
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