Former Colorado worker says love made her steal $11M
DENVER, Colorado – A former Colorado Department of Revenue supervisor says love for her ex-boyfriend led her to steal $11 million in unclaimed tax refunds from the state.
The ex-boyfriend, Hysear Randell, is on trial in Denver this week on charges of theft, forgery, computer crime and racketeering.
On Wednesday, Michelle Cawthra testified that she deposited unclaimed tax refunds and other money in Randell’s bank accounts over two years by forging documents and creating fake businesses. She said she frequently used computer passwords of other workers so she wouldn’t be detected.
“I did things I don’t think I otherwise would have done had I not been in love with him,” she testified.
Randell, who is married, is accused of using the money to pay for delinquent child support, land deals, diamond jewelry, cars and business ventures.
Aside from some jewelry and trips, Cawthra, 32, said she didn’t benefit from the money she stole.
Defense lawyer Scott Reisch said Randell, 42, thought the money was coming from a Cawthra family trust fund. He argued Cawthra tried to use the money to lure Randell away from his wife, Trudy Randell, who is accused of helping create bank accounts for the scheme. She has pleaded guilty to theft but has not yet been sentenced.
Cawthra said she didn’t have a trust fund. She said she tried to get Randell to leave his wife but said he knew the money was coming from the state.
Cawthra is serving a 24-year prison term after pleading guilty to racketeering. She testified as part of a plea deal with prosecutors that could help reduce her sentence.
Trudy Randell has pleaded guilty to theft but hasn’t been sentenced.
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