Son admits to defrauding adoptive mother
Jack Curtin-Hill, the adopted son of Blanche “Christy” Hill, the 88-year-old former fashion model who has lived in Vail for more than 30 years, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Denver to bank fraud and making false statements in a tax return.
Curtin-Hill, 56, of Denver, was arrested in July after a federal grand jury returned a 15-count indictment charging him with bank fraud, making false statements on tax returns and failure to file a tax return.
On Tuesday, Curtin-Hill pleaded guilty to counts 1 and 14 of the indictment. The government has agreed to drop the remaining charges.
However, all of his conduct will be considered when he is sentenced, said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for Colorado.
“He will be ordered to pay restitution and will most likely get prison time,” said Dorschner.
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Curtin-Hill could get from 41 to 51 months in federal prison, but a judge will ultimately decide at his sentencing hearing, Jan. 16.
“The potential prison sentence is appropriate for the crime charged,” Dorschner said. “Close to $1 million fraud is a significant case for us.”
The indictment says that while serving as the personal secretary and bookkeeper for Hill – from Aug. 14, 1995 to Sept. 4, 1998 – Curtin-Hill defrauded FirstBank of Vail by obtaining assets, securities and other property belonging to Hill that was under the custody and control of the bank.
The indictment says Curtain-Hill also forged Blanche Hill’s signature on stock certificates representing approximately 435 shares worth about $1.2 million.
Approximately $919,000 of the more than $1 million in stock sale proceeds was allegedly diverted to other accounts under Curtin-Hill’s control and used for his personal benefit.
“The government is still determining the amount of restitution,” Dorschner said. “We’re trying to figure it out because there were several separate civil litigations that have been settled already. The bank has recuperated some money.”
The Internal Revenue Service will have to pursue the unpaid taxes separately in civil court, Dorschner said.
According to the indictment, on April 15, 1997, Curtin-hill failed to report approximately $94,000 on his federal income tax return. On his April 15, 1998, tax returns, Curtin-Hill failed to report another $402,000 in income.
Blanche Hill didn’t return calls Tuesday.
Soon after Hill adopted Jack Curtin-Hill in 1981, he began to maintain his adoptive mother’s personal financial records, including the preparation of monthly reconciliations of her accounts at FirstBank. Curtin-Hill also had signature authority over many of her financial accounts.
In February 1999, Hill filed a lawsuit against her adoptive son, accusing him of stealing hundred of thousands of dollars.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at email@example.com.