Store manager, IRS reach agreement |

Store manager, IRS reach agreement

Naomi Havlen

A woman who admitted embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from an Aspen shoe store more than four years ago is now being asked to pay the IRS.Sarah Hart was sued by her employer at Ozzies Shoes in Aspen in 2000 for allegedly embezzling more than $500,000 from the store, where she worked as an office manager and bookkeeper. Hart, now 53, settled the civil lawsuit with the shoe store by agreeing to pay more than $1 million in restitution. Aspen Assistant Police Chief Glenn Schaffer, who was the lead investigator in the case four years ago, said there was evidence Hart embezzled at least $600,000 during her 16 years at the shoe store.Schaffer said Hart was never prosecuted locally because the case was taken over by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS charged Hart with failing to report the embezzled income on her tax returns.On Dec. 17, 2004, Hart pleaded guilty to one felony count of filing a false tax return for the tax year of 1998, according to Agent John Harrison, a spokesman for the IRS. Under the agreement, which was accepted by Judge Phillip Figa of U.S. District Court in Denver, Hart must pay what she owes on her tax returns for embezzled money from both 1997 and 1998. The agreement says Hart embezzled $33,661 in 1997 and $39,750 in 1998.Hart’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 17.”These are social issues for the community,” Harrison said. “You don’t want anyone who is a criminal to benefit from their crime – if they steal $1 million and nothing happens, people think crime pays.”If a suspect can’t afford to pay taxes on the money, Harrison said, the IRS makes arrangements to be paid over time.”Taxes become a factor in every major embezzlement case we’ve worked,” Schaffer said.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail is

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