Employee sentenced for embezzlement

Former Montezuma County administration employee Mary Ann Sanders was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail and three years probation for the embezzlement of thousands of dollars in public funds.

Sanders spoke through tears at Wednesday’s hearing, apologizing to taxpayers, the county, friends, family and co-workers for her actions.

“I always intended to pay back the money I took,” she said. “My life will never be the same.”

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Hughes said the 22nd Judicial District sees a lot of theft cases.

“What makes this one more serious is the violation of public trust,” he said.

Representing Sanders, attorney Kelly McCabe pointed out Sanders’ lack of criminal history and otherwise flawless 38 years working for the county.

Visiting Judge Jeffrey Wilson noted Sanders lost her job and took a hit to her income because of the charges and granted her work release while in jail to help her in paying restitution.

In addition, he ordered her to 200 hours of public service.

Sanders had entered into an agreement with the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office in February, pleading guilty to a count of felony theft and a count of misdemeanor theft.

She was originally charged Aug. 11, 2011, with three counts of felony theft, eight counts of felony embezzlement, and one count of misdemeanor official misconduct.

Sanders was accused of taking approximately $8,000 in county funds over several years from a petty cash fund. Dates of the thefts range from December of 2009 to February of 2011. The money was discovered missing later that year.

Montezuma County Administrator Ashton Harrison has said weak points have been identified in the office and safeguards have been put in place to prevent such thefts from happening in the future.

Reach Reid Wright at reidw@cortezjournal.com