Restitution still pending in city theft

ALAMOSA — District Judge Michael Gonzales on Tuesday granted one further extension of the plea hearing for former City of Alamosa Finance Director Amanda McDonald, 41.

McDonald is expected to plead guilty to unauthorized use of transaction device and theft in connection with her alleged embezzlement from the City of Alamosa.

She appeared in court on Tuesday with her attorney Deputy State Public Defender James Valenti who had told the judge at a previous court appearance in December that the plea agreement was awaiting a restitution amount and the attorneys were negotiating that number.

That was still the situation on Tuesday, Valenti and Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig told the judge.

“We have the terms of the plea essentially worked out with the exception of restitution,” McCuaig said.

He explained that the restitution in this case is rather significant, and rather than turn this into a multiple day civil case over restitution, the attorneys were diligently working to arrive at a number they could agree to.

Rather than have a prolonged hearing over the restitution, they were trying to arrive at a stipulated restitution, he said.

He added he has had meetings with the victim in this case as well.

McCuaig told the judge he hoped by the next court hearing they would have a set number for the restitution figure. He asked for about 30 days additional time to work on the restitution issue.

The judge said there’s obviously a benefit to work out the restitution figure, so he would grant another extension but would expect there would be a disposition by that time. He scheduled the case again for March 6.

McDonald worked for the city finance department from 2007 until 2016 and served as finance director for the majority of that time. She was accused of misappropriating $65,000 in public funds and providing health insurance through the city to an unauthorized family member, which resulted in the city being charged approximately $400,000 in unauthorized premiums and insurance benefits being paid out.

She was initially charged with felony theft, felony embezzlement of public property, felony unauthorized use of transaction device charge and misdemeanor first-degree official misconduct. She is expected to plead guilty to the felony unauthorized use of transaction device charge for which she would be granted a deferred judgment, as well as a misdemeanor theft charge. Remaining charges would be dismissed.
McDonald remains free on bond.