local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 last week
 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info

 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs



Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of Aug 28 - Sept 3, 2002


Embezzler’s sentence under retained jurisdiction program

Express Staff Writer

A Hailey woman was sentenced to a prison term of three to five years last week for participating in one of the area’s largest embezzlements ever, though the sentence could be suspended if she successfully completes a six-month stint under a retained jurisdiction program.

Linda Hillman, 46, had pleaded guilty July 8 to grand theft by embezzlement, a felony. She had been charged last December along with her daughter, Laura Alarcon, 25, Luz Clara Ayala, 42, a Hailey resident, and Rhonda Linderman, 31, a Bellevue resident, of stealing $150,000 from the now-defunct Angel Wings store in Ketchum. Val Dumke, the store’s owner, said the thefts caused the business to close.

Alarcon was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of aiding and abetting the fraudulent use of a credit card. She received a withheld judgment and a jail sentence of 180 days, with 175 days suspended, and a $1,000 fine.

The other three had pleaded guilty to embezzling a total of over $100,000 through the unauthorized use of Angel Wings credit cards and obtaining illegal cash advances. In addition, police seized $50,000 worth of Angel Wings merchandise from their homes.

Linderman and Ayala are scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 16.

Fifth District Judge James May denied Hillman’s plea for probation on Aug. 19. A press release from the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office stated that in doing so, May cited her lack of remorse, the extent of the crime and her statement that the victim simply "made it too easy for her to steal."

At the sentencing, Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas contended that Hillman’s apologies rang hollow when contrasted with statements she made in a recorded call with a codefendant that Hillman was ready to burglarize Angel Wings to destroy records and was ready to "set a match to the place."

"This crime was premeditated, calculated and committed for personal gain," Thomas said. "It is no different than the corporate thieves who looted Enron, WorldCom or Kmart."

May sentenced Hillman to 180 days in the Pocatello Women’s Prison. He retained jurisdiction of the case to determine whether at the end of that period she is a candidate for probation or should serve her time.

Thomas said he was pleased with the sentence.

"I think that’s enough to get her attention," he said.

Hillman has also paid Dumke $17,980 in court-ordered restitution. Thomas said that Ayala and Linderman will together be ordered to pay about $50,000 in restitution.

In an interview, Dumke said she felt betrayed by the women’s actions.

"We treated our employees with respect," she said. "They were not stealing to feed their families. They were just embellishing their lifestyle."

Dumke said she is still working to restore her credit rating to the point that she can start a new business.

On Monday, Alarcon’s attorney, Cheri Hicks, told the court that her client had played an "extremely small" role in the crimes. She said Alarcon had used an Angel Wings credit card number, given her by her mother, to buy $2,000 worth of items, including car insurance, a U-Haul rental and hotel bills.

"She had reason to know her mother shouldn’t have those cards, but she didn’t know that being on the receiving end as a third party was a crime," Hicks said. "Laura feels very stupid for putting herself in this position."

Reading from a prepared statement, Alarcon apologized to the court and to the victim.

Hicks requested a withheld judgment and little jail time for her client on the grounds that she is participating in computer courses and is caring for her 4-year-old son. Under a withheld judgment, Alarcon’s conviction will be erased from the record if she successfully completes her probation.



Mountain Jobs

Formula Sports

Idaho Conservation League



Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.