Offer pending in theft case

ALAMOSA — With an offer on the table, attorneys are waiting for a final restitution figure before entering a plea agreement in the criminal case of former long-time Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office employee Carol Orton, 54, charged with theft allegedly occurring during her employment with the sheriff’s office.

Orton appeared in court on Tuesday with her attorney David Lipka who informed District Judge Michael Gonzales that an offer has been extended to Orton, but they are waiting for a financial audit to be completed that will determine the final restitution amount. He said he has been in regular contact with District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen regarding the discovery in this case.

“There’s been quite an extensive audit in this case,” Lipka said. He said the audit is not yet completed but is close. He added he had just received more discovery documents in the past week and had received a batch of documents in June.

Lipka said everyone was working hard to compile and complete discovery documents. He said the offer on the table is finalized, but he hoped if the restitution figure increased, the offer would still be valid. He did not specify what the offer was.

Judge Gonzales said he realized financial cases like this one take a lot of time to put together, and he wanted to give both sides enough time. He said he would rather give more time at the front end of the case for issues to be resolved.

“There’s an offer on the table. It’s just a matter of knowing what the final restitution figure is,” the judge said.

He scheduled September 18 so the audit could be completed and discovery documents shared. He said if that does not occur by that time, and the restitution figure is still not finalized, “we will move the case forward.”

Orton has been charged with felony theft and unauthorized use of a financial transaction device (credit cards.) 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. 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.

Orton had worked for the sheriff’s office for more than 30 years and was set to retire next April. She remains out of custody on bond.