Police searching for suspected embezzler
Two months ago, Kathleen Cleaver said that in spite of the embezzlement charges she faced in Eagle County she planned to stay in the valley. On Tuesday, however, when Deputy Sheriff Jeff Huff went to serve Cleaver with yet another summons for fraud, he found her house in Gypsum abandoned.
“I’ll have to pursue an arrest warrant. It appears she is running,” Huff said.
This time, Cleaver, 56, who already faces theft charges in other three cases, could face up to five counts of fraud by check. The case has been filed with the District Attorney’s Office and prosecutors haven’t decided yet if they will file charges, said District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.
Each potential charge Cleaver faces this time is a class VI felony stemming ffrom allegedly defrauding her landlord for about $8,000 with checks, police said.
“We keep showing up for court dates and there’s a new case waiting,” said Terry O’Connor, Cleaver’s attorney. “It makes it difficult to make an ultimate disposition if the cases keep piling.”
Cleaver, a computer consultant, already is accused of: Stealing money from the Vail Symposium, a local nonprofit organization; stealing about $12,000 from the Galatyn Lodge in Vail; and stealing money and a computer worth about $15,000 from Streamline Builders in Gypsum.
“We’re trying to get a disposition for all cases,” O’Connor said. Cleaver, who is out on a $7,500 bond, appeared in District Court on March 10, but her case was continued. Her next court appearance is April 5.
Huff said he was surprised that Cleaver had apparently fled. When he arrived at the house Tuesday morning, he found no one there and a sign on the front door saying that Cleaver owed rent.
“She had told me she wouldn’t run, that she would stay,” Huff said.
In December, Cleaver, who acknowledged she took the money from the Vail Symposium, said she wanted to stay in the valley, where she has lived for 15 years.
“I told the DA she was a flight risk,” said Ebby Pinson, director of the Vail Symposium. “She’s a flight risk because she doesn’t own property in our community.”
Hurlbert said most suspects have the opporuntiy to bail themselves out of jail. “Only those accused of capital crime can’t make bond,” Hurlbert said. “The idea is that the money they put up will keep them coming back.”
But if Cleaver has fled Colorado, Hurlbert said he will post a national arrest warrant because she is charged with felonies. “There will be a warrant out, if she’s ever stopped even for a traffic violation, she’ll be arrested and extradited,” he said.
According to court records, Cleaver allegedly stole money from the Vail Symposium, where she was a computer consultant for about four years, to 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 at the hotel. Alleman said she gave Cleaver a deposit to buy equipment from a subcontractor, which she allegedly never did.
“I’m trying to get restitution of our funds,” Pinson said. “And justice for our community.”
Cleaver’s embezzlement case is among dozens filed in the Vail Valley in the past years.
Karen Kaffka, the former chief financial officer for a general contractor, moved to Nevada last spring after pleading guilty to stealing $2 million from an Edwards company. Mark Mogul, who will stand trial in March for allegedly stealing $341,000 from time-share sales in Edwards, moved from Avon to Breckenridge.
And Brandon Outlaw, a former resident of Avon accused of stealing more than $700,000 in condo fees from some 400 people in Eagle County, faces a trial in May. Outlaw, a convicted felon, moved to Tulsa, Okla., where he now faces drug trafficking charges.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.