Ex-employee admits stealing from realty company

A former accounting manager for a Grand Junction realty company who embezzled tens of thousands of dollars and used the money to pay utility and credit card bills was given a deferred sentence Wednesday and ordered to pay restitution.

Kathryn Anne Baker, 22, pleaded guilty to a single felony count of theft in a plea agreement that will allow the conviction to be wiped off her record if she stays out of legal trouble for the next four years.

She also was ordered to perform 120 hours of community service, according to Mesa County court records.

Baker, who worked for Century 21 Cole & Company Realty from February 2007 to August 2008, was arrested in July after the new accounting manager at the company told police she noticed discrepancies after she took over for Baker.

The new manager said she found multiple credit card and checking-account transactions completed without authorization from Cole & Company owner Dale Cole, according to court records.

Cole & Company conducted an audit and learned the unauthorized transactions were completed using three company credit cards and three company checking accounts.

Detectives found Baker used the accounts to pay Grand Valley Power, Xcel Energy, Bresnan Communications and Discover credit card bills and that she wrote checks to herself and cashed other checks, according to court records.

An additional audit of payroll checks written to Baker found she gave herself unauthorized pay raises, overtime and a bonus. The overpayments totaled more than $1,200, according to court records.

Cole told police Baker’s father offered to pay $25,000 in restitution, but he didn’t accept any money because of the extent of the loss, according to court records.

Police estimated the total loss to Cole & Company in fraudulent transactions at more than $27,000.


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