Conservation group’s bookkeeper arrested
A former bookkeeper for a respected land conservancy in the Roaring Fork Valley has arrested on five felony charges related to allegations that she embezzled from the organization.Carman T. Andrews, 34, of rural Garfield County, is accused of using her position as bookkeeper of Aspen Valley Land Trust to steal from the organization, according to Carbondale police. A source familiar with the investigation said Andrews is accused of embezzling an amount greater than $50,000.She was arrested by Carbondale police May 19 for investigation of theft, unauthorized use of a financial transaction device, criminal possession of a financial transaction device, forgery and criminal impersonation.Andrews was the target of a lengthy investigation that is still ongoing, said Carbondale Police Sgt. Greg Knott.Aspen Valley Land Trust acquires land and conservation easements, which in turn prohibit development, throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and, recently, in the Colorado River Valley. It’s the oldest and one of the largest conservancies in Colorado.It’s participated in several high-profile projects around Aspen, such as brokering deals that helped keep the Independence ghost town in public hands, as well as the Ryan parcel near Ashcroft.The organization has high credibility with ranchers and landowners who are conservation-minded, as well as donors with deep pockets.Aspen Valley Land Trust fired off a letter to contributors informing them of the embezzlement case and asking them to keep faith in the organization.”We didn’t want anyone to think we were hiding anything,” said Martha Cochran, executive director of Aspen Valley Land Trust . “It’s a small valley and word gets around.”Cochran said Aspen Valley Land Trust discovered the alleged embezzlement on April 15. It appears activities were taking place “for about a year, in varying degrees of severity,” said Cochran.No other employees have been implicated.No other employees have been implicated.