Local woman admits stealing from high school students
A local woman admitted she embezzled thousands of dollars from high school students.
Holly Sandoval, 48, pleaded guilty to felony theft on Dec. 23. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a forgery charge.
Sandoval was the treasurer for Eagle Valley High School’s Project Graduation program, which is designed to create safe and sober opportunities for high school seniors during their graduations.
In her guilty plea, Sandoval admitted stealing cash and funneling deposits to herself, and away from the teenagers it was meant for.
Sandoval entered her guilty plea last week before District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman.
Dunkelman made sure she knew what she was doing.
“Once you enter a guilty plea, it’s very difficult to enter a different plea. Do you understand that?” Dunkelman asked.
“Yes,” Sandoval replied.
Dunkelman scheduled Sandoval’s sentencing at 9 a.m., Jan. 28, 2015.
Assistant District Attorney Joe Kirwan is prosecuting the case, and said Sandoval also admitted guilt in a 2006 case, in which she embezzled from a local bank. That deferred sentence was successfully completed, said Terry O’Connor, Sandoval’s defense attorney.
Prosecutors are requesting jail, maybe state prison, Kirwan said.
Follow the money
Tad Degen, school resource officer for Eagle Valley High School, launched the investigation when he was contacted March 4 by a CPA working with the Project Graduation crew.
The CPA had spotted almost two dozen discrepancies for around $7,000, Kirwan said.
Among the discrepancies Kirwan listed in court were:
Checks Sandoval had written to herself.
A $550 check for tassels for mortarboards for graduating seniors. Students pay for their own tassels.
$750 for a class gift to Eagle Valley High School that the school did not receive.
Cash from bingo games was not deposited in the Project Graduation account.
A check in March 2014 for $1,000 for the use of Eagle’s Brush Creek Pavilion. However, Project Graduation didn’t use the pavilion.
A check to Eagle for $500 that was refunded by the town, but was not deposited in the Project Graduation account.
Cash for $1,350 that Sandoval funneled to herself. Kirwan said she had claimed it was for a deposit to use WECMRD’s Edwards Field House, and for decorations. However, the fieldhouse did not require a donation, and the decorations were donated.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.