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Ex-Jeffco employee pleads guilty

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By Deborah Swearingen

A former Jefferson County Human Services worker pleaded guilty Monday morning to two felony counts of attempt to influence a public servant and forgery.

Richelle Schultz, 53, will return to court March 5 for sentencing, where she faces up to nine years in prison. The former caseworker, who worked for Jeffco from December 2015 to July 2016, is accused of falsifying information in 12 child abuse and neglect complaints. She was indicted by a Jeffco grand jury in September on 22 counts of attempt to influence a public servant and forgery, though 20 of those were dismissed with her guilty plea.

According to the grand jury, Schultz is accused of committing the crimes between April 30, 2016 and June 30, 2016, while working as a child welfare caseworker with the county.

“She was trained to investigate complaints alleging child abuse and neglect. This training included instruction on interviewing the alleged victim, family and/or witness in person and/or over the phone,” the 14-page indictment reads. “The content of the interviews was to be recorded in the state of Colorado’s Trails database.”

The indictment suggests in 12 cases Schultz reported interviewing the victim, family and witnesses when she hadn’t. The Trails database is used to track cases and often is a determinant for whether further investigation and follow-up will be conducted.

Schultz terminated her employment with Jeffco Human Services in July 2016 for reasons unknown. The department investigated the 12 cases in which Schultz was accused of entering incorrect information and confirmed that there were no unresolved safety issues, according a press release from the Jeffco District Attorney’s office.

Mary Berg, deputy director of Jefferson County Human Services, reiterated this point in an interview with the Courier, where she said the alleged forgery by its former employee had no negative implications for the children and families it serves.

The former Jeffco employee turned herself in Sept. 15 after being indicted and posted $25,000 bond the following day.