Judge sentences embezzler to four years in prison, restitution | VailDaily.com

Judge sentences embezzler to four years in prison, restitution

Veronica Whitney
Vail Daily/Shane MacomberFormer Gypsum resident Kathleen Cleaver who pleaded guilty to embezzlment charges walks into Eagle County Court for sentencing, Wendsday in Eagle.

After calling her crime a “very serious one,” an Eagle County judge on Wednesday sentenced a former Gypsum woman to four years in prison for embezzling from several people in the valley.Eagle County District Judge Tom Moorhead also ordered that Kathleen Cleaver, who pleaded guilty to two counts of felony theft, pay $71,000 in restitution to her victims. Cleaver, 56, a computer consultant, was accused of: Stealing money from the Vail Symposium, a nonprofit organization; stealing about $12,000 from the Galatyn Lodge in Vail; stealing money and a computer worth about $15,000 from Streamline Builders in Gypsum; and defrauding her landlord. In June, Moorhead agreed to put all the cases together. “When I look at the nature of the events in this community, (theft) is unfortunately widespread,” said Moorhead, referring to other embezzlement cases that have hit Eagle County in the past year. “I view (this offense) as very, very serious.”

Cleaver, who arrived at the Eagle County courthouse with a Bible in her hand and $500 in her purse to pay restitution, was in tears for most of the hearing.”I made mistakes,” Cleaver pleaded with Moorhead at her sentencing hearing. “I went around things the wrong way. I chose the wrong means. These people were friends.”In spite of Cleaver’s pleas and the prosecution’s recommendation that Cleaver go to jail for 90 days and pay restitution, Moorhead went ahead with the prison sentence.”(The thefts) happened through a period of time to a number of individuals. It wasn’t one circumstance where you took advantage of the opportunity to violate a position of trust and steal for your own benefit,” Moorhead said.

According to court records, Cleaver stole money from the Vail Symposium – where she was a computer consultant for about four years – to allegedly pay her bond and attorney’s fees in the Streamline Builders’ case.Carol Alleman, manager of the Galatyn Lodge, said she hired Cleaver in the fall to install high-speed Internet in the hotel. Alleman said she gave Cleaver a deposit to buy equipment from a subcontractor, but, allegedly, Cleaver never did.”It was fair,” Ebby Pinson, director of the Vail Symposium, said of the sentencing. “The sentence has to be a message to our community.”Alleman, who told Moorhead she believed Cleaver needed to pay restitution, said she was surprised with the sentence.

“She’s more likely to pay restitution if she isn’t in prison,” Alleman said.Cleaver, who has acknowledged in previous interviews she took the money from the Vail Symposium, said she wanted to stay in the valley, where she has lived for 15 years. But she moved to Wyoming because she said she couldn’t find work in the valley.Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.Vail Colorado

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