ALAMOSA — Long-time Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office employee Carol Orton, 54, of Alamosa, was arrested and charged with felony theft and unauthorized use of a financial transaction device (credit cards) in connection with alleged actions while working for the sheriff’s office.
She was arrested on April 25, her 54th birthday, was booked into the Alamosa County Detention Center and subsequently bonded out on a PR (public recognizance) bond approved by Alamosa County Judge Daniel Walzl.
Orton has resigned and is cooperating with investigators, according to Alamosa County Sheriff Robert Jackson. He said he believed the alleged criminal activity had been occurring over the last year to year and a half.
Orton had worked for the sheriff’s office for more than 30 years and was set to retire next April.
She was serving as office manager supervising a variety of activities from tickets being paid to handgun permits as well as vouchers and accounts payable.
Jackson said Orton handled the five credit cards at the sheriff’s office. Allegations include the use of those county credit cards for personal use.
The Alamosa County Finance Department discovered recent irregularities in charges, and an investigation was conducted that led to Orton’s arrest. Orton faces charges of theft of more than $20,000 but less than $100,000, a class 4 felony, and unauthorized use of a financial transaction device, a class 6 felony.
According to the probable cause statement in support of Orton’s warrantless arrest, filed with the courts by Detective Sam Coffman, Orton is suspected of illegally taking $28,438 through an evidence account and fraudulent charges on county credit cards.
Matters came to a head earlier this week. On Monday, April 23, Orton requested the sheriff to release money from the evidence account in the amount of $5,000 to be paid to Arturo Herrera. Orton made the request while Sheriff Jackson was preoccupied with a citizen complaint, which he believed to be unusual because she normally would not approach him for something like that while he was busy with someone.
The authorization for such a release of money from evidence must come from the district attorney’s office, but when Undersheriff Shawn Woods contacted the DA’s office to see if the DA had authorized this $5,000 release, he was told the DA’s office had not. When Orton had been asked for a letter from the DA’s office authorizing the cash release from evidence, she had stated that Herrera had brought the letter from the DA.
According to the probable cause statement, Orton later told Captain Kristi Duarte, her supervisor, that she had lied about the $5,000 release and had deposited the money in her personal account. Orton allegedly also admitted to charging $1,000 on one of the county sheriff’s office credit cards towards a purchase from Holiday RV. Detective Coffman stated that statements for the five credit cards indicated other fraudulent and undocumented charges including the $1,000 charge to Holiday RV.
On April 25 Orton waived her Miranda rights and was interviewed at the sheriff’s office concerning her alleged illegal transactions. At that time, according to Detective Coffman’s probable cause statement, she admitted to using county credit cards to pay personal bills and indicated which charges were hers personally, as far as she could remember them. She also stated she had deposited $6,000 of her own money into the sheriff’s office evidence account and then written a $10,103.39 check to Holiday RV for a camper.