Jury returns guilty verdict in Glenwood theft case
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Aspen CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A jury on Tuesday night found former interior designer Shawnee Ryan guilty of all seven counts of theft in a court case that involved accusations that she ripped off as many as 40 clients and suppliers over a period of four years.
Ryan, 55, now living in Cripple Creek, is to be sentenced Oct. 4 by District Judge Denise Lynch in Glenwood Springs.
Ryan was convicted of bilking seven clients while she was operating a series of businesses in the Glenwood Springs area between 2006 and 2009. She was arrested in 2010 following a yearlong investigation by authorities.
The 12-person jury deliberated for a little longer than an hour and a half Thursday night, and the verdict was delivered at 6:09 p.m. in the 9th Judicial District Courtroom, according to Andrea Bryan, a deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case.
News of the verdict, however, did not reach the Post Independent until after the paper’s deadline, due to a communications mix-up.
According to Bryan, there was little reaction to the verdict in the courtroom from either the defendant or her victims.
Many of the victims, area residents who hired Ryan for home-design projects and owners of businesses that sold her goods such as lighting or flooring, have been watching the proceedings since the trial began Aug. 6. But they already had left the courtroom by the time the verdict was announced.
But on Wednesday, one of the victims, Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association President Marianne Virgili, expressed relief and gratitude.
“For a lot of the victims, they weren’t just building expensive homes,” said Virgili, who paid Ryan about $100,000 for goods and services that Virgili and her husband, John, never received. “For John and me, this was a dream we’d worked for and saved for all of our lives. And it’s not right to trample on someone’s dream.”
Bryan reported that she asked Lynch to
revoke Ryan’s $38,000 bond and have her placed directly in jail after the verdict, but the judge denied that request and opted to continue the bond until the sentencing date.
Ryan would have faced as many as 42 years in prison if sentenced to the maximum amount of time for each count, which carry a range of two to six years apiece, and if the sentences were to be served consecutively.
But Bryan, in an email to the Post Independent, wrote, “Because of the dates of the theft, some of the counts will have to merge with one another.” This comes under an agreement reached Tuesday between the District Attorney’s Office and defense attorney Kathy Goudy.
Bryan said that by her calculations, Ryan is “facing anything from probation to two to 18 years in prison total.”
Although the victims were not in court when the verdict was announced, they were aware of the trial’s outcome.
“I just want to see her pay for her crimes,” said Deborah Thomas, owner of Illumination Designs in Grand Junction, on Wednesday. Thomas, who sat through the entire trial, plans to write a letter to Lynch to advocate for a long prison term.
Virgili, speaking as the chamber director, said, “Our business community doesn’t want or deserve a criminal on Main Street. I’m just glad the integrity of the business community has been preserved.”
Virgili also expressed gratitude to the District Attorney’s Office, and Bryan in particular, for prosecuting the case.
“We are so fortunate in this county to be protected by people like this,” Virgili said.
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