Fratis gets 24 years in prison
Boogie’s embezzler Lynda Mae Fratis was sentenced to 24 yearsin prison by Judge J.E. DeVilbiss Monday in 9th Judicial DistrictCourt.The sentence is the stiffest to be handed down by DeVilbiss inrecent memory.”Since I’ve been here , there hasn’t been a 24-year sentence,”said Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills, following the judgment.”We agree with it. That’s what I asked the judge to impose,” Willssaid. “It is a long sentence, but a proper sentence. There werea lot of aggravating circumstances.”The sentencing brings closure to a case that was first broughtto the attention of local authorities in February 1998, thoughcharges – 11 counts of theft – were not filed against Fratis untillast May. The vast amount of documentation required to detailthe crimes took some time for investigators.On Jan. 4, Fratis pleaded guilty to three counts of felony theftfor bilking upwards of $1.7 million from Boogie’s while employedthere as a bookkeeper between 1992 and 1997. The plea agreement,in which eight counts of theft were dropped, stipulated that hersentence not exceed 24 years. She received 24 years on each ofthe three counts, to be served concurrently.During an evidentiary presentation which preceded yesterday’ssentencing, Wills called Karen Baxter to testify. The former generalmanager of the Aspen diner and clothing store is credited forfirst detecting and then unraveling Fratis’ schemes. Also calledwas Boogie’s owner Leonard Weinglass.Baxter detailed the various methods Fratis employed to siphonfunds in the form of cash and checks from the store’s payrolland operating accounts, and the deceptive schemes which she usedto cover her tracks. “When you trust somebody, you trust somebody,” said Weinglassof his former relationship with Fratis. “But I feel like an idiottoday,” he said, recalling occasions over the years in which hefelt he should have recognized something was afoul.Wills asked what Weinglass felt was an appropriate sentence andhe chokingly replied: “Everyday for nine years, she came to workand carried this out, it was all premeditated,” he said. “Shehas made no apologies, no effort to make restitution.”This lady deserves no consideration because she has shown noconsideration,” he said.When dismissed from the stand, Weinglass leaned over the defendants’table as he walked by and, glaring down at Fratis, said, “You’rea piece of shit!”Fratis, dressed in black, didn’t flinch. Her face was buried inher hands, where it remained for much of the three-hour proceedings.Following the outburst, Weinglass was peaceably removed from thecourtroom at DeVilbiss’ orders.When given an opportunity to address the court, a distressed Fratiswas apologetic.”I am very remorseful for what I’ve done, and wish I could goback and choose a different path,” she said.Fratis is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in Denver’s U.S. DistrictCourt on federal tax evasion charges. She pleaded guilty in mid-February.
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