Six-years recommended in embezzlement case
“The court is inclined to grant the charge concession, but not the sentence concession,” said Eagle County District Judge Tom Moorhead at Outlaw’s sentencing hearing Tuesday. The hearing has been continued until Monday.
In October, Moorhead moved forward with a plea agreement offered Outlaw by District Attorney Mark Hurlbert that includes restitution of $112,000 and between none and 90 days in jail.
Outlaw, 30, who now lives in Oklahoma, pleaded guilty in October to stealing $700,000 in homeowners fees. He also faces drug trafficking charges in Oklahoma.
On Tuesday, several of Oultaw’s victims showed up at the Eagle County Justice Center to see what they expected would be the end of the two-year-old case. But upon the request of Outlaw’s attorney, Barbara Parnell, Moorhead continued the sentencing hearing because Parnell got the pre-sentencing report from the probation department late. The report was available on Monday instead of 72 hours prior to the sentencing, as required by state law.
“He had two months to do the pre-sentence report,” Hurlbert argued with the judge. “The report is late because Mr. Outlaw didn’t show up to his pre-sentencing investigation on time.”
Hurlbert asked Moorhead to finish the case Tuesday or put Outlaw in jail until he is sentenced. Moorhead declined the request.
Hurlbert declined to comment on why the probation officer is recommending six years in prison.
If Moorhead decides to go with the probation officer’s recommendation – which is different from Hurlbert’s plea offer – Outlaw could withdraw his guilty plea. That would mean his case would go to trial unless there’s another plea offer.
“Where does this stop?” asked an enraged Jeff Antonius, a Vail Point homeowner and one of Outlaw’s victims. “People took time to come here today.”
After talking to Hurlbert for an hour after the hearing, there was a consensus among several homeowners to accept the plea. In the past month, dozens of Outlaw’s victims have written to Moorhead pleading with him to reject the plea agreement.
“It seems to me that unless people get put away they’ll keep doing it,” said Jim Kearney, another victim who owns a home at Vail Point. “This is bad for Eagle County.”
Hurlbert agreed to ask the judge to impose a strict and relatively short restitution pay schedule.
“If he defaults on the restitution payments even one day he’ll go to jail,” Hurlbert told the victims on Tuesday. If that happens, Outlaw could get from four to 12 years in prison.
“You’re trying to make a balance between punishment, restitution and making victims whole,” Hurlbert said. “You see this happening in every place there is money –in Eagle and Summit counties, for example. You don’t see it happen as much in Clear Creek and Lake counties.”
The conditions of Outlaw’s plea didn’t include prison because this was apparently his first felony offense.
When he offered the plea, Hurlbert, however, was unaware of the drug charges filed against Outlaw in August in Oklahoma. Outlaw faces two counts of trafficking in illegal drugs. He is accused of selling cocaine and ecstasy – 500 MDMA tablets, according to court records filed in Tulsa, Okla.
According to court records, Outlaw’s trafficking offense happened on June 26 in Tulsa County. That was months before he pleaded guilty to stealing from several homeowners associations in Eagle County.
If the victims ask him to, Hurlbert said he could rescind the plea offered in October because of the drug charges.
Outlaw was scheduled to appear in district court in Tulsa County for a preliminary hearing last Thursday, but the hearing was continued to Jan. 4.
If convicted on the drug trafficking charges, Outlaw could go to prison for more than 20 years.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at
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