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Sheriff investigating theft from sports association — again

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By AJ Vicens

The sheriff's office has again opened its investigation into the theft of $125,000 from the South Jeffco Sports Association, marking the third time since September that the sheriff has investigated the theft.

The saga began when some of the association's leaders and office staffers noticed some irregularities with checks and other payments, and then learned that an office worker had been forging checks and otherwise manipulating the books to steal money.

The theft was reported to the sheriff in September, but the investigation stalled when investigators didn't get the cooperation or evidence they needed in the matter, according to Jacki Kelley, sheriff’s spokeswoman. That, coupled with the fact that the association's current leadership was asking the sheriff and District Attorney Scott Storey to stay out of the matter, stalled the investigation.

Sheriff's investigators reopened their investigation after media reports about frustration on the part of Storey and other community members, but it was quickly closed again.

The woman suspected of stealing the money has reportedly paid it back in full.

A Jan. 28 meeting among sheriff's investigators, representatives of the DA's office and association leadership apparently was enough to get the investigation started again, with the sheriff's office now saying it has the cooperation needed to go forward.

"That meeting was a really productive meeting, and we, the sheriff's office, believe we have the full cooperation of the new board, which will allow us to continue to move forward to obtain the evidence we need to pursue a criminal investigation in this case," Kelley said. "The board was not fully aware of the difficulties we had in the past, and not aware that we had not been able to collect evidence in this case, so it was a productive conversation."

She said the investigator assigned to the case has "every intent to file a case at the completion" of his investigation, which will put the ball back in the DA's court. The DA has already expressed a desire to look at the case and, if warranted, file charges against the woman suspected of stealing the money.

The Courier is not identifying the woman based on the unwillingness of the sheriff's office, the DA's office or the association to acknowledge her name. Association president Jeff Wahl did not return several calls seeking comment after the Jan. 28 meeting.

DA spokeswoman Pam Russell said the Jan. 28 meeting came at Storey's request, after he had obtained most of his information about the case from media reports, and that, after the meeting, "everyone felt more confident that they could move forward." Russell added that there has been no decision made as to whether the case will go before a grand jury.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.