Fratis pleads guilty in Boogie’s embezzlement
The former bookkeeper at Boogie’s pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of felony theft stemming from the embezzlement of more than $1.7 million from the Aspen diner and clothing store.
According to a plea agreement finalized yesterday in 9th Judicial District Court, Lynda Mae Fratis will face a maximum sentence of 24 years in prison for embezzling the money during her employment at Boogie’s.
She will be sentenced March 1.
“It was a very good plea bargain for us,” said Lawson Wills, assistant district attorney and lead prosecutor in the case. “Twenty-four years may have been the maximum sentence anyway.
“The plea agreement is reflective of a very strong case,” said Wills, crediting Karen Baxter, a Boogie’s employee, and Aspen police investigator Glenn Schaffer with compiling the evidence.
However, Boogie’s owner and president Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass expressed acute displeasure with the proposed plea agreement before it was accepted by Judge J.E. DeVilbiss.
“We were friends,” Weinglass said in court Monday. “Her children spent the night at my house and my children spent the night at her house … and she methodically, premeditatedly stole from me.
“A plea bargain to me should be out of the question. I want this to go to trial and I’ll prove that she stole more than $4 million. This lady deserves no compassion,” Weinglass told the judge. “I’m asking you not to accept this plea bargain.”
Weinglass declined further comment after the judge accepted the plea agreement.
Before her March 1 sentencing hearing before Judge DeVilbiss, Fratis will be sentenced in a federal court in mid-February for tax fraud, according to Wills. She pleaded guilty to the tax fraud charges last month.
“It’s my understanding that she’ll be sentenced to three years,” Wills said. The federal sentence Fratis receives could run concurrently with the sentence that she receives in district court, or it could run consecutively, Wills said.
In either case, “[Fratis] will serve the federal time first, probably in Florida where her kids are, at which time she’ll be transferred to the Colorado Department of Corrections,” Wills said.
Larry Pozner, Fratis’ attorney, said special arrangements will have to be made for Fratis to attend the March 1 sentencing. She will probably be in federal custody at that time because she will have been sentenced in the federal case, Pozner said.
Wills said certain incentives are built into the plea agreement to motivate Fratis to return embezzled funds to Weinglass, if she still has them.
“What we tried to do was craft this [plea bargain] to encourage her to return the funds,” Wills said. Fratis must complete financial disclosures and financial releases in order that her finances may be scrutinized, he said.
“We believe that she spent the money, granted very extravagantly, around town,” Wills said. However, if the money is hidden in off-shore accounts, he said, “all we can do is provide motivation, in terms of reduction of sentence, to recover that money.”
Eight other counts of theft and more than 100 counts of forgery against Fratis were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Lift-Up has helped feed hungry families in the Roaring Fork Valley for 38 years, but experienced in a surge in demand this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is making changes to meet the demand and address allegations of incidents of discrimination.