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Teacher convicted of stealing student’s instruments

Will Bublitz
Vail CO, Colorado

GRAND COUNTY ” A former middle school music teacher was convicted of stealing and pawning her student’s musical instruments for thousands of dollars.

Susan Stock, a former East Grand Middle School music teacher, was found guilty of felony theft and two misdemeanor charges of theft.

In handing down the conviction Friday, which was the result of a plea agreement, Judge Mary Hoak did not impose any additional jail time, saying Stock’s 166 days of incarceration since her arrest May 16 were “adequate.”

The judge also ordered Stock pay to restitution for the stolen musical instruments with the total amount to be determined within 90 days. In addition, Hoak ordered that Stock pay $1,137 in fines and court costs, and perform 120 hours of useful public service. She is not to have any contact with any of the victims with the exception of writing letters of apology, which have to be completed by March 25 and must first be submitted to her probation officer.

Stock was also placed on two years of supervised probation. The judge also ordered her to continue a course of mental health treatment and medication, which she described as “crucial” to Stock’s rehabilitation.

Stock’s mental health and medication treatments featured as a major part of the defense’s case presented at Friday’s court hearing.

Speaking on Stock’s behalf, Dr. Susan Whitefeather, a psychologist with Colorado West Mental Health in Granby, explained that Stock’s lifelong bipolar condition had been under control for years through medication. Without the proper medication, untreated bipolar disorders can result in a wide range of symptoms such as rapid mood swings, depression, manic or paranoid behavior, and “an inability to reason clearly.”

Whitefeather explained that about 2-1/2 years ago, Stock underwent gastric bypass surgery to control a weight problem and began failing to take her bipolar medication. Whitefeather said the lack of proper medication resulted in a “downward spiral” in Stock’s mental condition.

Principal Nancy Karas of East Grand Middle School testified that Stock was an “exceptional teacher” during the first three years of the six years she worked as a music teacher for the middle and high schools, but began to “deteriorate” in performance about the time of her gastric bypass surgery.

Afterwards, she “took a dive” emotionally, “sitting and crying in the classroom” and “not able to manage,” Karas said.

Standing before the judge with her attorney at her side, Stock read a prepared statement, with her voice breaking a times from emotion. She said she was not “looking for sympathy or making excuses,” but thought her bipolar condition was an important factor in her case.

Stock admitted that following surgery she failed to take the proper medication. She acquired “excessive debt” and in her mental state began rationalizing that she was only “borrowing” her students instruments and not really stealing them when she pawned them in Denver.

“But I obviously was,” she said.

Stock said her arrest and jailing was the “best thing to happen” to her because she got back on her medication and began “thinking clearly” again, and felt ashamed and remorseful for the thefts she had committed.

In the case brought against her, Stock reportedly stole more than two dozen musical instruments belonging to the school district, the East Grand Music Foundation, individual students and a rental company. The estimated value of the instruments is about $30,000. A few of the stolen instruments have been recovered.


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