Kristen Chesnik, the Town of Paonia's former finance officer, admitted Monday to the theft of nearly $400,000 from town coffers over a four-year period. At a hearing in district court, she waived her right to a trial and admitted the offense by entering into a plea agreement.
She was represented by attorney David Eisner of Grand Junction.
Between Jan. 1, 2007, and Dec. 30, 2011, Chesnik admits she made unauthorized ATM withdrawals from town accounts, used town debit cards for personal purchases, took cash advances from town bank accounts, and issued checks to herself that she then cashed for her personal use.
After the hearing, Mayor Neal Schweiterman said the plea agreement is "a positive step forward."
The theft constitutes a third degree felony, which carries a sentencing range of four to 12 years, plus five years of parole.
Sentencing will take place June 24. A community corrections screening has been requested. Assistant district attorney Kerry Yoder also asked for a mental health evaluation.
Chesnik allegedly covered her theft by creating fraudulent bookkeeping entries that were not discovered until an audit by Blair and Associates in 2011. The Town of Paonia has filed a claim for reimbursement with CIRSA, its insurance carrier, but it's probable the court will also order Chesnik to pay restitution.
Since the fraud was detected, the Town of Paonia has taken steps to ensure transactions are reviewed twice monthly by a finance committee comprised of two trustees.blog comments powered by Disqus