Mobile bank bandit given sentence
EAGLE — A retired nurse admitted she was part of a trio running up and down Interstate 70, scamming money from local banks in three Western Slope counties.
Vanessa Ravare, 62, had no criminal record before she helped scam more than $38,000 from banks in Eagle, Garfield, Summit and Mesa counties.
Ravare pleaded guilty to three felonies and a misdemeanor. Because she had no previous criminal record, and because she admitted her involvement in the scheme and because she named Cynthia Johnson as co-conspirator, District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman sentenced her to six years probation, the remainder of a year in jail and ordered her to help repay more than $32,000 in restitution.
“Certainly you weren’t the head or the mastermind,” Dunkelman told Ravare at her sentencing. “Neither were you the victim. You were a willing accomplice, and you knew it was wrong when you did it.
Because she took responsibility, her sentence was shifted from prison to county jail, probation and restitution, Dunkelman said.
“I’m ashamed of what I did. I’m ashamed of what I did to the people I hurt. I wish I could turn that around. I’ll do everything I can to pay that money back,” she said, her voice breaking and crying.
Ravare will serve her sentence in the Summit County jail. Johnson, who remains in the Eagle County jail, has reportedly threatened Ravare’s life.
Fakes and forgeries
Ravare has been in jail since October 2015, when she was arrested at First Bank in Silverthorne, trying to get a cash advance using a fake drivers license and a forged Capital One credit card.
She had successfully pulled the scam in Alpine Banks in Frisco, Edwards and Glenwood Springs, using the same fake drivers license and forged credit card.
The scams were part of a larger criminal enterprise, possibly based in California, said prosecutor Heidi McCollum.
When Ravare was finished in Colorado, the criminal syndicate had planned to send her to Miami, Florida, to be part of an identical scheme there, she told investigators.
“This racketeering scheme stretched from the West Coast to the East Coast,” McCollum said.
Defense attorney Cynthia Jones said Ravare lost three people in her life in about a month.
“She made some bad decisions and became involved in this. Still, she never once denied her involvement,” Jones said. “She has been in jail for a long time, especially for someone who has never been in jail.”
Who’s Sandra Seawell?
Ravare has lived her entire life in the Oakland, California, area, and has grandchildren in Texas, Jones said.
Ravare pulled at least three scams, including ones at Alpine Banks in West Glenwood Springs, Edwards and Frisco, all using forged drivers licenses and Capital One credit cards under the name of Sandra Seawell, who lives in Texas.
In each scam of the three scams she took at least $4,800.
In Silverthorne where she was arrested, she tried an identical scam with documents forged under Mary Jackson’s name.
Co-conspirator Johnson’s criminal record is more than 40 pages long. The 60-year old has served several jail and prison sentences, and is looking at 96 years if convicted in this crime spree.
Prosecutors reportedly offered Johnson 10 years for her part in taking at least $38,000 from 13 local banks between Frisco and Fruita.
Prosecutors say Johnson used at least 18 aliases during the month-long caper.
Johnson’s attorney, public defender Thea Reiff, asked that a psychiatrist determine whether Johnson is mentally competent to stand trial.
That request was barely done echoing around the courtroom when Johnson told Judge Dunkelman she wanted to fire Reiff.