Flannery charged with Habitat theft

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— The former executive director of Routt County Habitat for Humanity was charged with felony theft Wednesday amid allegations that she stole as much as $72,000 from the nonprofit organization in a six-month period.

Shelly Flannery, whose listed home address is in Hayden, also is accused of embezzling money from the Rio Blanco County Historical Society in a separate ongoing case. She has not been charged in that case.

Steamboat Springs police Detective Jerry Stabile said his investigation showed Flannery deposited pre-signed checks, meant for vendors, into her personal bank account. She also is accused of stealing Safeway grocery cards intended as a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity.

Jeffery Weeden, director of the Habitat for Humanity board, said a preliminary audit of the organization's bank account showed more than $72,000 missing.

The group submitted an insurance claim based on that investigation, and Weeden said he expects a check covering the full amount to arrive today.

Flannery has been charged with Class 3 felony theft, which indicates the amount of money allegedly stolen exceeds $20,000. The indictment did not include a specific amount. Colorado sentencing guidelines indicate Flannery could face four to eight years in prison if convicted.

Flannery is scheduled to appear in court at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 4.

Charges were filed late Wednesday, and Flannery was not immediately available for comment. Her attorney, Cheryl Hardy-Moore, is out of town. Hardy-Moore previously said Flannery is cooperating fully with authorities.

Despite the missing money, Weeden said Habitat is on track to finish a duplex project now under construction in Steamboat's West End Village.

"We were in the black before we got the check," he said. "As of last week, we were able to make a few final purchases we needed to make to get the families into the West End Village duplex by the end of October."

Weeden said the money from the insurance carrier, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, will be reinvested in the project.

"This comes at a really great time, because we can use it for land acquisition in Steamboat," he said.

The upcoming projects will be "significant advancements in scale and size," he said.

The Habitat for Humanity board also will commission a full forensic accounting audit, which will be funded from a separate account.

"If that's a cost we actually incur, and we do expect to incur that, we will raise those funds separately so people can feel comfortable that all funds donated to Habitat go toward building and taking care of the business of Habitat," he said.

The cost of the additional audit is not known.

- To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208

or e-mail zfridell@steamboatpilot.com

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