Former sheriff staffer in court

ALAMOSA — Former long-time Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office employee Carol Orton, 54, made her first appearance in district court on Wednesday on charges of felony theft and unauthorized use of a financial transaction device (credit cards) allegedly occurring during her employment with the sheriff’s office.

Orton appeared out of custody with her attorney David Lipka who waived formal advisement of the charges. Lipka asked for a continuance, as the attorneys have not yet received all the information in the case. He said the attorneys have been working hard on this case but requested more time in case there was further information they had not yet received.

District Attorney Crista Newymer-Olsen agreed. “The information continues to come in from law enforcement,” she told District Judge Michael Gonzales. “I want to make sure discovery is complete before we finalize anything.”

The judge rescheduled the case for August 7.

Orton had worked for the sheriff’s office for more than 30 years and was set to retire next April when the charges arose in April of this year. She subsequently resigned as office manager for the sheriff’s office.

Orton is accused of using county credit cards to pay personal bills and make purchases as well as taking evidence account funds for her personal use. The Alamosa County Finance Department discovered irregularities that led to an investigation and Orton’s arrest.

The theft charge specifically alleges a value of more than $20,000 but less than $100,000, a class 4 felony, and the unauthorized use of a financial transaction device is a lower-level class 6 felony.

Orton is suspected of illegally taking $28,438 through the evidence account and fraudulent charges on county credit cards, according to the probable cause statement in support of Orton’s warrantless arrest.