Woman who stole from students will stay in jail | VailDaily.com

Woman who stole from students will stay in jail

EAGLE — An Eagle County woman is in jail for embezzling from teenagers, and that's where she'll stay, a judge ruled.

Holly Sandoval was sentenced to a year in the Eagle County jail and four years probation for stealing thousands of dollars from an Eagle Valley High School student organization, Project Graduation. She admitted in court that she did it.

She asked District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman to reduce her sentence.

No dice, Dunkelman ruled last week.

In his ruling, Dunkelman said he didn't need any more information to make his decision.

"The court is well aware of the history of this case and the defendant, as it was at the time of sentencing," Dunkelman said in denying Sandoval's request.

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When he handed down his sentence, Dunkelman said that because of the impact on the community, Sandoval would serve her sentence in the community where she committed the crime. Dunkelman said he had seriously considered sending Sandoval to state prison.

Among the 205 local victims are the 133 members of that year's Eagle Valley High School graduating class.

Thefts began almost immediately

Sandoval, 48, was the treasurer for Eagle Valley High School's Project Graduation program, designed to create safe and sober opportunities for high school seniors during their graduations.

Just days after getting control of the Project Graduation bank account in December 2012, Sandoval forged a check to herself for $720, said Assistant District Attorney Heidi McCollum, who prosecuted the case.

When she was done, Sandoval had stolen more than $7,000, one-third of that year's budget.

The Project Graduation committee's accountant found the discrepancies while preparing the organization's tax return.

'Pattern of deceit'

McCollum said Sandoval's "pattern of deceit" reaches back more than a decade.

McCollum said Sandoval embezzled from two banks where she was employed, beginning in 2005. She was sentenced to probation in one of those cases.

Dave Young, Sandoval's former employer with R&H Mechanical, said Sandoval embezzled between $24,000 and $30,000 when she worked there. However, the statute of limitations had expired and no charges were filed.

The state paid Sandoval more than $5,800 in unemployment benefits to which she was not entitled, McCollum said. Sandoval was ordered to repay the money, but has not, McCollum said.

Sandoval was also not truthful in a bankruptcy application, McCollum said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached by phone at 970-748-2935 and by email at rwyrick@vaildaily.com.