Curtin-Hill pleads not guilty
Curtin-Hill, 56, of Denver, was arrested last week after a federal grand jury returned a 15-count indictment charging him with bank fraud, making false statements on tax returns and failure to file a tax return. He is free on $10,000 unsecured bond.
Curtin-Hill pleaded not guilty at his arraignment before a U.S. magistrate in Denver. His next court date is Sept. 12 for a motions hearing.
“His plea was standard for an arraignment,” said Dick Weatherbee, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver. “When a grand jury indicts someone, it believes there’s probable cause that he committed the crime. If we go to trial, we (the prosecution) need to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt. We wouldn’t have filed the charges if we didn’t think we could do that.”
Curtin-Hill’s attorney, Michael Abramoritz, told the Rocky Mountain News that federal prosecutors shouldn’t have filed criminal charges on what began as a tax investigation focusing on unreported income.
“I suspect the alleged victims pushed for a criminal investigation, Abramoritz told the Rocky Mountain News Monday.
Curtin-Hill is the adopted son of Blanche C. “Christy” Hill, 88, a former fashion model who appeared several times on the cover of Life magazine in the 1940s.
The indictment alleges that while serving as the personal secretary and bookkeeper for Hill from Aug. 14, 1995, through Sept. 4, 1998, Curtin-Hill defrauded FirstBank of Vail, obtaining assets, securities and other property under the custody and control of the bank belonging to Hill.
Hill was formerly known as Blanche Hauserman while she was married to Vail pioneer Dick Hauserman in the 1960s. She became wealthy after marrying Cortland Hill, a descendant of James Jerome Hill, founder of the Great Northern Railroad, and changed her name to Christy Hill.
The indictment also alleges that Jack Curtin-Hill maintained his adoptive mother’s personal financial records, including the preparation of monthly reconciliations of her accounts at FirstBank.
Curtin-Hill also had signature authority over many of her financial accounts.
Christy Hill declined to comment Monday when reached by phone at her home in Vail. After the arraignment Monday, Curtin-Hill told a Rocky Mountain News reporter, “I’d just as soon keep my life private and anonymous.”
The indictment alleges Curtain-Hill obtained and sold FirstBank Holding Company securities from FirstBank without Hill’s knowledge.
He is also alleged to have forged Hill’s signature on stock certificates representing approximately 435 shares worth about $1.2 million.
Approximately $919,000 of the more than $1 million in stock sale proceeds were allegedly diverted to other accounts under his control and used for his personal benefit, the indictment says.
In February 1999, Hill filed a lawsuit against her adopted son, accusing him of stealing hundred of thousands of dollars.
According to the indictment, on April 15, 1997, Curtin-Hill failed to report $94,000 on his federal income tax return and again, on April 15, 1998, he filed another return, failing to report $402,000 in income, the indictment says.
In 1998, he had also received gross income in excess of $422,000 and didn’t file a federal income tax return to report these earnings as required by law, according to the indictment.
James D. Vickery, special agent in charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Denver Field Office, said that putting an end to high-dollar tax fraud associated with financial crimes continues to be an IRS priority.
If convicted, Curtin-Hill could receive up to 30 years in federal prison and fines of more than $1 million. He also could be required to pay restitution.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at