Search warrants issued in embezzlement case

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More than $30,000 could have been embezzled from the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition, according to court documents released today.

District Court Judge Joel Thompson approved two search warrants this morning authorizing the Craig Police Department to seize all personal financial records of Robin M. McKenzie, 36, who has been named the main suspect in the alleged embezzlement of funds from the two local non-profit organizations. The department will be searching McKenzie's residence on Yampa Avenue.

The warrants also cover a billing statement from "Spiegel, Eddie Bauer, Newport News Charge" that is addressed to McKenzie.

Police are investigating allegations that while McKenzie served as executive director of the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition she embezzled funds for personal use. Court documents state that initial estimates from the coalition show the non-profit is missing "at least $32,000 from the coalition account over the last 20 months."

McKenzie first became executive director in 2000, when the coalition became an independent non-profit organization. The Craig office of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association in 1997 organized the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition.

The allegations were first brought to the police on Wednesday by two coalition board members.

The court documents describe 27 examples of unauthorized checks written from the coalition's bank account at the Bank of Colorado to McKenzie. The checks were written from June 2000 up through February 2002, with values ranging from $400 to $6,500.

McKenzie resigned as executive director of the coalition, effective in March. The coalition's bank account balance was found Wednesday to be at zero by co-President Cheryl Ivy, the documents state.

McKenzie joined Moffat County Partners as an employee in February, and the initial investigation has shown that McKenzie continued to allegedly embezzle funds for personal use. Documents show that McKenzie never made two cash deposits for Partners of $92 and $62 even though she recorded them as deposited. McKenzie also allegedly collected three cash donations of $100, $17 and $75 for the Partners' Easter Egg Campaign that were never deposited.

No charges have been filed yet, and McKenzie is in the custody of a friend in Craig. She was placed there by Craig Mental Health when a request for a 72-hour non-voluntary commitment could not be carried out because of a lack of bed space at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction Thursday night, according to the Moffat County Sheriff's Office.

McKenzie was treated and released from The Memorial Hospital Thursday afternoon, according to a TMH spokesperson. McKenzie could be facing felony charges once the investigation is completed.

Cases of this nature are covered under theft, and with the amount of money involved that charge could be a class 3 felony, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney David Waite.

"I don't know any of the exact details nothings been turned over to us yet but with the amount of money we seem to be dealing with, it would be a class 3 felony charge," he said. "It appears to be a straight theft situation. Except for a couple of minor charges, most of the embezzlement laws were folded into the theft statutes several years ago."

A class 3 felony is punishable by a sentence of up to 12 years and a fine of up to $750,000. If the charge is listed as aggravated, the sentence could be as high as 24 years.

Until the case is turned over to the District Attorney's office, it won't be known if the crimes committed in this case will warrant the aggravated designation, Waite said.

The dental coalition acted as a clearing house for children and adults who can't afford dentistry by coordinating the Miles for Smiles van to visit the area.

Children who qualify for the Miles for Smiles van are those who do not have health insurance. The Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition is a good program and should not be destroyed because of this incident, John Ponikvar, president of the Moffat County United Way Board, has said.

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