Former Garfield County employee charged with embezzlement
October 10, 2009
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A former Garfield County Treasurer’s Office employee has been arrested for allegedly embezzling more than $12,000 in property tax payments through the office.
Vanessa Lynn Lujan, 30, of Rifle was arrested early Friday morning and booked in the Garfield County jail on felony theft charges. Lujan posted a $10,000 bond Friday afternoon.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Lujan allegedly stole $8,395.92 from taxpayers who had dropped off property tax payments at the office, and another $4,209.88 in cash, which she was supposed to deposit for the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.
The affidavit states that on July 17, Lujan was supposed to deposit $46,973.58 at a local bank. However, the affidavit states, “It appeared that only the checks arrived in the amount of $42,763.70,” leaving $4,209.88 unaccounted for.
The missing deposit was noticed July 27, by Deputy Chief Treasurer and Public Trustee Jean Richardson, while she perform a balance check of bank accounts. Richardson reported the theft to Glenwood Springs Police on Aug. 4.
According to the affidavit, Richardson asked Lujan about the missing deposit when it was discovered and determined that Lujan had, in fact, taken the deposit to the bank. However, when asked about the missing cash, Lujan could not explain what happened, the affidavit stated.
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Lujan voluntarily resigned her position on July 27, after Richardson asked her to explain where the money was, the affidavit stated.
Richardson also told investigators that one week before she discovered the missing deposit, a customer claimed that they had received a delinquent tax notice, but the customer told Richardson that they had paid their taxes in full.
The customer provided a receipt of payment that was stamped and initialed “VL”, the affidavit stated.
Richardson told investigators she checked, but according to Treasurer’s Office records, the customer’s payment had not shown up as received.
Shortly after Richardson reported the first theft from the clerk’s office, the affidavit states that she was contacted by “several other taxpayers” claiming that they, too, had received delinquent notices after having paid their property taxes.