Embezzler of school funds gets prison sentence waived

— A former Steamboat Springs High School employee who embezzled more than $40,000 from a school activity fund has been freed from jail and given permission to move back to Dallas.

14th Judicial District Judge Richard P. Doucette reconsidered on Monday the sentence he handed down to Denise Rene Martinez earlier this year. Doucette placed Martinez on eight years of probation and ordered that she pay $43,000 in restitution and complete 600 hours of community service.

The sentence replaces the punishment Doucette ordered this past May four years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Between June 1, 1997, and Nov. 1, 1999, Martinez embezzled more than $40,000 from a high school activity fund.

On Monday, Doucette also decided that Martinez does not have to sell a $4,000 time-share condominium she owns in Mexico to help pay the restitution.

Doucette also cleared the 38-year-old Martinez to return to her hometown of Dallas on the stipulation she signs a waiver of extradition. Doucette decided that it would be in the best interest if he allowed Martinez to return to Texas "where she would have support of family that will allow her to pay the restitution timely," his ruling stated.

Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James argued against Martinez leaving the state because of the amount of restitution she owes.

The theft deeply impacted students at Steamboat Springs High School. Many of the students attended her sentencing hearing last spring.

Steamboat Springs High School senior Cameron Dapper was disappointed to learn about Monday's development on Tuesday.

"It is ridiculous," she said. "She was a figure of authority here. A lot of students feel betrayed about the whole deal."

Prior to Monday's court proceeding, numerous letters were submitted to the court. Letters from Martinez, her parents and a prospective employer asked for Doucette to release the woman from the Denver Women's Facility.

"It is something I live with and remember every day," Martinez wrote to the court. "I feel so ashamed. I realize I have lost all trustworthiness and respectability in the eyes of the students and faculty of the high school and my family. "

In her letter, Martinez indicated she would live with her parents so she could have more money each month to pay the restitution.

She also indicated she would get a part-time job to go along with her full-time job. The owner of a Dallas property damage appraisal firm indicated to the court he would hire Martinez.

Martinez's sentence was reduced after she filed a petition for Doucette to reconsider the sentence. Martinez had to wait 120 days before she filed the petition.

For the theft, Martinez served a total of 149 days in jail.

The school's insurance company reimbursed the school $43,563 minus the $2,500 deductible that Martinez agreed to pay.

As a condition of her sentence, Martinez must make restitution payments to the insurance company.

Prior to being sentenced on May 22, the probation department recommended Martinez serve 90 days in the county jail, be placed on eight years of probation and do 600 hours of community service.

Martinez, who worked for the district for three years, was arrested by police in December 1999. She was arrested as she was attempting to leave the city.

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