Woman gets two years in CAPS after pleading guilty to theft

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A Craig woman will spend two years in a community work-release program serving concurrent sentences for theft, according to terms of a plea agreement accepted Tuesday in District Court.

Wanda LaFord pleaded guilty to a Class 4 felony charge of theft in Moffat County and a Class 2 misdemeanor charge of theft stemming from a Routt County case.

Those charges resulted in a probation violation for LaFord.

LaFord was charged with theft of $5,000 to $15,000 for stealing goods from the Craig Daily Press of--fice. A third misdemeanor charge of theft between $100 and $400 was dismissed.

LaFord was working as a courier for the newspaper in June when the company reported three digital cameras stolen. They had an estimated value of $8,500.

Because a pre-sentence investigation was waived in the case Tuesday, LaFord was sentenced immediately after her plea.

LaFord's attorney, Sheryl Uhlmann, said the woman has been struggling with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, which may have been a factor in the thefts. A change in medications and a new therapist should bring about positive change in the woman's life, Uhlmann said.

"I think that the thefts are very much related to the mental health issues," Uhlmann said. "She wanted to take her case to trial to tell her side of the story so that the court would have some sense of her, not just her offenses."

LaFord's sentence includes restitution, but those costs weren't formalized Tuesday. She will serve two years unsupervised probation along with the two-year Community Alternative Placement Services sentence. An unsuccessful CAPS sentence could result in as long as a two-year prison sentence in the Colorado Department of Corrections, Chief District Judge Michael O'Hara said.

Moffat County District Attorney Mike Stern said a videotape showed LaFord taking money at the newspaper office.

Police found other items such as a camera lens, hand-held police scanner, a camera case and a camera flash in the woman's possession after an interview. She was arrested after officers issued a summons for her arrest.

"This is a good opportunity for you, Ms. LaFord, to avoid going to prison," O'Hara said. "I hope you can successfully complete the (CAPS) program."

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