ASPEN, Colorado - A district judge sentenced a Gypsum woman to eight years of supervised probation for stealing more than $20,000 from an Aspen homeowners association.
Brenda Elaine Dobbs, who turns 64 later this month, also was ordered to pay $22,708 to the Mountain View Homeowners Association, where she worked as its bookkeeper. As part of a plea deal, which folds in her embezzlement case out of Garfield County, Dobbs already has paid $5,000 to another nonprofit she fleeced, Colorado Animal Rescue, of Glenwood Springs.
Dobbs has been involved in at least nine criminal cases in Colorado since 1992. The charges revolve around incidents of fraud, forgery and theft, data show.
But this time is different, Dobbs told Judge Gail Nichols, explaining that she has immersed herself in a restorative-justice program since she was taken into custody on Aug. 16, 2011. She said her actions have affected more than 100 people.
"To think I'm that kind of person that could have hurt that amount of people, it's almost more than I can bear," she told the judge.
She added, "I am guilty, but I know my life is different now. I am sorry for what I've done. I want my life to be different now."
Steven Shapiro, a member of the the Mountain View Homeowners Association, said the funds Dobbs swiped were intended to keep the "water and lights on."
"I feel like this needs to be paid because there are some people who can't afford it," he said.
Shapiro told Nichols that if Dobbs doesn't make good on her debt, "she should be put in jail."
"If she failed to pay, the prosecution can get her to prison, but only if it can show she had the money to pay and didn't pay," Nichols said.
Nichols said she had considered rejecting the plea deal and sending Dobbs to prison. But after hearing Dobbs speak, the judge said she believed she was sincere and on the right track. And, by not being in prison, Dobbs has the ability to earn income to relieve her debts. For her part, Dobbs told the judge she already has an advertising job lined up for a local lodge.
Police say that Dobbs, from May 1, 2011, through Aug. 8, 2011, used the homeowners association's cash card to ring up charges of $8,900 from the Alpine Bank ATM at the Aspen Business Center, $8,714 from the Community Bank cash machine in Aspen, $607.50 from the Walmart ATM in Glenwood Springs, $308 from the ATM at Clark's Market in Aspen, $2,030 from the Vectra Bank money machine in Snowmass Village and another $1,627.15 in miscellaneous business and phone orders.