Steamboat Springs Terri Dawn Moody Fatka, one of two women accused of embezzling as much as $1.2 million from Alpine Bank account holders, told Steamboat Springs police detectives in June that the thefts began when she put $10,000 down the front of her pants in the safety deposit box room at the bank.
Fatka pleaded guilty to four counts each of felony theft and forgery June 23 and is due for sentencing later this month. Williams' case will go to trial next year, after pleas of not guilty were entered for her charges during her arraignment Wednesday in Routt County District Court.
Judge Shelley Hill entered not guilty pleas on Williams' behalf, after denying another request from her attorney, Charles Feldmann, to continue the case. Her case has been pending since she and Fatka were arrested Feb. 21.
Feldmann had requested more time to review recently received security footage from Alpine Bank before entering his client's plea. Alpine Bank officials did not return calls for comment Wednesday.
On June 12, in an interview before witnesses, including Detective Jerry Stabile and Fatka's attorney, Erick Knaus, Fatka described in detail how she and Williams took the money - and where they spent it.
"Pam told me that there were no cameras in the safety deposit box room," Fatka said. "And, she told me to put it down the front of my pants, and then we'd walk the rest of the money into the vault 'cause there was another door that she had to open to get into the vault, and then we put the rest in there, but I had $10,000 in my pants at that time."
Fatka, 45, said stealing that first amount "was just way too easy," so, soon after, "we went back in and got $6,000 more."
The first $16,000 Fatka admitted to stealing with Williams in 2004 went toward paying off debts, buying a car for one of their children, and "probably just little things like groceries and bills," according to the transcript of Fatka's interview.
Additional charges still may be filed, in part because of Fatka's cooperation with the investigation, Feldmann said.
Fatka painted a picture of the two women as "best friends" equally involved in orchestrating and carrying out the alleged thefts - and in frittering away the cash.
"It seems like we were right there together. If she got a car, then the next month I'd have to get a car, like she gave me the itch," Fatka said.
As the women allegedly progressed to stealing money directly from Alpine Bank accounts, they were paying for lavish trips to Las Vegas with cashier's checks, buying expensive jewelry they told others was fake and buying cars, motorcycles and dirt bikes for themselves and their families.
"When Pam and I would go to Vegas, or if we purchased anything, we'd use my credit card 'cause she didn't have a credit card at that time. And we'd put out, our, umm, our airline tickets on there, our spa trips, just anything really, and then, when my bill would come in, I would add up how much she owed," Fatka said. "And, I would tell her, 'Hey, you owe this much.' And, she would bring from her stash cash in for her portion of my bill, and I would bring stash in from my house. And, then, she would do a cashier's check on her computer, and we'd usually send it off to Compass or whatever credit card, and it'd be in my name."
'We couldn't believe it'
Fatka also revealed which clients she and Williams allegedly targeted - those who kept poor track of their accounts and were not signed up for online banking, spoke poor English or seemed unlikely to notice large sums of money missing.
Their first forged advice of charge slip in February 2005 took $200 from the account of an "out of sorts" woman who frequented Alpine Bank's drive-up window, Fatka told investigators. The thefts escalated until the pair allegedly had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from the accounts of a "trust-fund baby" and others who carried sizeable balances. The women hand-typed falsified bank statements and mailed them to account holders to hide their tracks, according to court documents.
Fatka told investigators she and Williams didn't realize how much money they had stolen throughout the years until after they were arrested and saw all the information at once.
"We couldn't believe it, that it would even be close to that," Fatka said.
Early in the interview, Fatka indicated her intent to plead guilty at her next court date, and she expressed remorse and a desire "to be honest with everything."
"That's what I feel in my heart; I just need to come clean with everything, not hide anything," she said. "I'm tired of looking over my shoulder, and I've done that for years. And, I'm ready to be a good person again, and that's why I'm here."
Fatka is due for sentencing in Routt County District Court on Aug. 27.
Williams' trial was set for seven days, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 2, 2009. Hill intends to recluse herself from the proceedings at the request of the defense; a different judge will be assigned to the case. A pretrial conference will be carried out by telephone at 10 a.m. Jan. 6, 2009.
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