Friday, October 16, 2009

Grand theft case sent to district court

Bellevue woman accused of stealing from her employer


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Further prosecution has been court ordered in the case of a 44-year-old Bellevue woman accused of stealing money from her Ketchum employer.

Following a preliminary hearing Wednesday, Blaine County Magistrate Court Judge R. Ted Israel ordered that the case against Terri L. Sanders be bound over to 5th District Court. Sanders is charged with two counts of felony grand theft and two counts of felony forgery.

The amount that Sanders allegedly stole from Espinoza Flooring is not specified in case documents, but court records state that it is at least "several thousand dollars."

Investigation into the case started almost a year ago, though Sanders is accused of taking the money in 2006.

A probable cause affidavit filed by Ketchum police officer Adam Johnson states that Beatrice Espinoza, owner of Espinoza Flooring, reported the theft to police on Oct. 22, 2008. Johnson wrote that Espinoza said she fired Sanders in 2006 and reported the situation to her attorney, who she assumed would notify authorities. Only later did she learn that the situation had not been reported to police.

Johnson wrote that Espinoza reported that Sanders worked for the company from 1993 through 2006, first as a sales associate and later as a bookkeeper "in charge of collecting payments from clients."

The criminal complaint against Sanders alleges that on two occasions she transferred checks to her own account that were intended for deposit to Espinoza Flooring. The complaint also alleges that on two other occasions, Sanders forged Espinoza Flooring account checks payable to herself.

The charges against Sanders were filed on Aug. 20. She was not arrested. Instead, a felony summons was issued by the court.

An arraignment date in Blaine County 5th District Court had not been scheduled as of Thursday.

Sanders remains free on her own recognizance.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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