Parties reach plea deal in Aspen Internet scam case
ASPEN – A foreign woman jailed since March for allegedly running an Internet scam struck a plea deal with prosecutors Monday.
Elvira Gumerova, 22, pleaded guilty to second-degree trespassing on agricultural land with the intent to commit a felony. In exchange, prosecutors dropped felony theft and criminal impersonation charges connected to an alleged Internet scam in which she used an Aspen bank to fleece at least one Internet customer who paid $2,800 for an RV trailer he did not receive.
Gumerova appeared in the chambers of Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols, who sentenced her to the time she has already served in Pitkin County jail since her March arrest – 112 days. She also will be turned over to immigration authorities, and faces a likely deportation to her home country of Kazakhstan, officials said.
The felony charge to which Gumerova pleaded guilty was unrelated to the charges she originally faced. Her attorney, Mark Rubinstein, noted the difference during the hearing. After the hearing, Mordkin explained the felony count she accepted was “was the best felony she could plead guilty to.”
Gumerova was accused of collecting thousands of dollars in wire transfers at US Bank in Aspen under the name of “Sarah Cohen.” Bank officials said Gumerova, using the alias, had collected at least seven Western Union money transfers, averaging about $2,500. Aspen police were tipped off about the alleged scam on March 18 by a Wisconsin man who reported that he had been defrauded of $2,800. The complainant told police he saw a 2004 Dutchman Classic RV trailer for sale on Craigslist, then e-mailed who he believed was the owner to arrange a purchase.
The purported owner then directed the buyer to an eBay Motors Web page and told him to follow the directions there. The victim then followed the website’s payment instructions, which told him to wire the funds to a Western Union office in Aspen. That’s what he did March 11, but a week later he had not heard from the seller and had not received the RV, prompting him to contact local authorities. Police arrested Gumerova at US Bank on March 22.
Rubinstein said Gumerova played a limited role in the scam, claiming a small percentage of the bilked funds.
“I believe the extent of her involvement was merely to collect funds and distribute them elsewhere,” he told Nichols, adding that an out-of-state concern likely orchestrated the scam.
Even so, Nichols noted that, “I do believe you played a small part, but that part was criminal.”
Nichols also issued two-year deferred judgment against Gumerova, which means the conviction will be expunged from her record if she stays out of trouble during that period. That’s a moot point, however, since she likely will be deported.
“Ms. Gumerova, your time in the U.S. hasn’t been very good, but I hope you learn from this and your life in your home country is a successful one,” the judge said.
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