Monday, January 12, 2015

New Mexico Man To Avoid Jail With Restitution Agreement In $3 Million Embezzlement Case

From the Santa Fe New Mexican on 1/9/2015:

A former top executive accused of embezzling about $3 million from Santa Fe’s general hospital will pay $250,000 in restitution under terms of an agreement announced this week in state District Court in Albuquerque.

But Richard Crabtree, former chief operating officer at what is now called Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, won’t have to spend any time behind bars, according to the deal. In addition to paying back some of the money, the deal calls for Crabtree to serve five years probation.
Crabtree and his then-girlfriend, Loretta Mares of Albuquerque, were charged with multiple felony fraud counts in a case brought by the state Attorney General’s Office in 2012.
The pair were accused of funneling millions of dollars in payments for information technology services — some of which were determined to be unnecessary — to companies owned by Mares’ brothers.
According to court documents, Mares and Crabtree co-signed a loan for a Toyota Land Cruiser. The indictment states that funds obtained through the scheme were also deposited in various bank accounts held by Mares and Crabtree, and used to make payments on credit cards and country club memberships in Crabtree’s name. The documents also note that some of the money helped Crabtree fund construction of a home in Castle Rock, Colo.
Both defendants in 2012 pleaded guilty to some of the charges against them. But the pleas, which were accepted by District Judge Michael Martinez while the presiding judge in the case, Ross Sanchez, was out on medical leave, were rejected by Sanchez when he returned to the bench. Sanchez said terms of the plea bargain were not punitive enough.
Phil Sisneros, a spokesman for then-Attorney General Gary King, told The New Mexican in 2014, after the case had been pending for two years, that the Attorney General’s Office was going “back to square one” to try to renegotiate pleas that the judge would accept.
But Crabtree’s attorney, B.J. Crow, confirmed Friday that the “exact same” plea deals — calling for each co-defendant to serve five years probation and pay restitution as determined by the court — were later accepted by a third judge, Alisa Hadfield, after Sanchez retired.
Crabtree, 60, originally faced 19 counts. Mares faced 11 counts. Both took a deal to plead guilty to two second-degree felony counts of fraud over $20,000 and one third-degree felony count of conspiracy to commit fraud.
A determination on the amount of restitution had been scheduled as part of a court hearing on Thursday, but Crow reached a deal on the amount with the Attorney General’s Office right before the hearing.
Crow said the deal requires Crabtree to pay the first $50,000 of restitution by cashier’s check in the next two weeks. He said the former executive, who has late-stage cancer, will liquidate his life insurance to come up with that payment, and plans to sell the home in Castle Rock to get the remaining $200,000.
“His whole intention in entering into this restitution order is to make St. Vincent’s as whole as he is financially able to,” Crow said.
Crow said he feels the deal is fair given that Crabtree has no prior criminal history and that his crime was a “white collar,” or nonviolent, offense.
“He’s going out of his way to try to get them some money back,” Crow said.
Mares, 52, was also scheduled to appear for a restitution hearing Thursday. But she failed to appear, prompting the judge to issue a bench warrant for her arrest.
Mares’ attorney, Louren Oliveras, said in court Thursday that Mares, who also has cancer, missed the hearing because of a conflicting doctor’s appointment, according to the Attorney General’s Office, but the judge said Mares had ample time and notice to reschedule the hearing if necessary.
While neither defendant has been sentenced yet, under terms of the plea agreements accepted by Hadfield, neither will face jail time. “It’s a guaranteed no-jail deal,” Crow said.
But if they fail to abide by the agreed terms, each could face up to 21 years in prison.
The deal also would allow the judge to suspend their sentences, or give them conditional discharges, which would mean if they successfully completed probation, neither would have a felony conviction.
The case has moved very slowly. The crimes to which they pleaded guilty happened in 2007 and 2008, court documents show. They were reported to the Attorney General’s Office in 2008, but they weren’t indicted until nearly four years later, after Great American Insurance, which reimbursed the hospital for lost funds, filed a lawsuit against them.
During the three years since then, numerous uncontested continuances were granted in the criminal case.


Read the whole story here.

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