EAGLE — An admitted embezzler paid $250,000 in restitution and will also spend 30 days in jail because the judge said it’s not enough to repay the victim and walk away.
Robert “Mickey” Werner repaid Alpine Wine and Spirits $250,000 as part of a plea agreement. In addition, Werner was ordered to jail for what the judge said was a “minimal” sentence.
“I accepted this plea agreement because I wanted to make that man whole, and you did that. But I have a hard time letting you pay it back and walk out of here,” said District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman.
Dunkelman said it’s not uncommon for people to go to prison in cases like this, even if it’s their first offense.
“If you had wasted this money it would have been much different. On first offense people go to prison for something like this,” Dunkelman said.
Werner pleaded guilty to felony theft. He paid Eric Kenealy, owner of Alpine Wine and Spirits, $250,000 in restitution. During the course of four years, Werner stole an average of $200 on the days he was working, investigators said.
‘Violation of Trust’
“It’s something you thought about for a long time, and it went on for a long time. It was a violation of trust. This was a violation of Mr. Kenealy’s trust and the community’s trust. The man put a significant amount of trust in you and, in your owns words, you betrayed it,” Dunkelman said. “There has to be some punishment for this type of action and this is a minimal sentence.”
Werner’s attorney, Jesse Wiens, took issue with the amount of restitution, saying Werner agreed to it if Kenealy agreed not to file a civil lawsuit looking for more.
“He’s not standing before the court saying he took $250,000. The restitution went beyond what was taken,” Wiens said.
Wiens ticked off a list that included a month of hotel bills, groceries, dinners and billing for Kenealy’s time.
Rebecca Wiard, the assistant district attorney prosecuting the case, said they have receipts and a paper trail for everything Werner stole from 2010. Forensic accounting put the amount above $300,000, she said.
“I don’t think anything can hurt him more than what he has been through. He has lost everything he has fought for,” Wiens said.
Werner apologized for his actions.
“I want to apologize to my friends and coworkers, people who put their trust in me. I worked hard and diligently to make the store profitable. This has been devastating for me and my family,” Werner said.
Werner said it was small incremental amounts during a long period of time. He said he did not realize how much he was taking.
“I’m sorry I let it go on,” Werner said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I want to apologize to my friends and coworkers, people who put their trust in me. I worked hard and diligently to make the store profitable. This has been devastating for me and my family.”