Steamboat Springs Terri Dawn Moody Fatka, one of two women accused of stealing more than $1.2 million from Alpine Bank account holders, pleaded guilty Monday to four counts each of felony theft and forgery.
"Ms. Fatka entered pleas of guilty to eight felony charges," said Erick Knaus, Fatka's attorney. "Her goal - her stated goal - is to take full responsibility for her actions, the crimes as alleged. : This was a big deal. She pleaded guilty to all pending charges. This has worn her down. She didn't want to deal with it any longer."
Pamela Jean Williams, Fatka's alleged co-conspirator who also appeared in Routt County Court on Monday, requested and was granted a continuance. Charles Feldmann, who represents Williams, said the continuance was requested because Fatka has made additional statements to law enforcement officers that he has not had a chance to review.
Feldmann, who has said he plans to take Williams' case to trial, said Fatka's guilty pleas will not change his defense strategy.
"The two are drastically different cases," Feldmann said, "so I wasn't too surprised by that decision. : I think the inclination is still to head toward trial, but no final decision has been made on that right now."
Fatka and Williams were arrested in February on suspicion of stealing more than $1.2 million from several Alpine Bank account holders. The women were Alpine Bank employees when the alleged crimes were committed. Feldmann would not say how their cases differ.
"That's tough for me to get into until the trial's started," he said, "but they really are different."
Knaus said Fatka was not offered a plea deal by prosecutors but that she is cooperating fully with police. No recommended sentencing is included in the plea agreement signed by Knaus and Fatka on Monday. Knaus said the probation office will conduct a presentence investigation and make a nonbinding recommendation to Judge Shelley Hill. Fatka's sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 27. Knaus said he expects a sentence of four to 12 years imprisonment, with the possibility of time spent on parole, a halfway house in Craig or both.
Williams' case will resume with an arraignment 4:30 p.m. July 29.
Trial set for chase suspect
Also Monday in Routt County Court, a trial was set for a man accused of leading the Colorado State Patrol on a high-speed chase across Routt County in November, giving troopers a false name and eluding arrest by fleeing the Yampa Valley Medical Center in his nightgown at 3 a.m.
James Nicholson, who also faces charges in Weld County, is scheduled for a two-day trial beginning Nov. 20. Nicholson faces felony charges of vehicular eluding, criminal impersonation and second-degree aggravated motor theft. He faces misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence, reckless driving, operating an uninsured motor vehicle and possession of drug paraphernalia.
While a prosecutor said it wouldn't take more than half a day to try the case, public defender Trevor McFee requested longer. McFee said he will call several witnesses related to the theft charge against Nicholson.
In November 2007, Nicholson led former State Patrol Trooper Rick Kaspar on a high-speed chase. In an allegedly stolen Lincoln sedan, Nicholson allegedly reached speeds of up to 120 mph on Colorado Highway 131 and County Road 14, according to the State Patrol.
Nicholson lost control of the car while attempting a sharp turn from C.R. 14 onto C.R. 14C. The car came to rest upside-down in a field adjacent to the road.
Nicholson sustained minor injuries in the crash and was transported via ambulance to Yampa Valley Medical Center, where he eluded arrest by walking out of the hospital in his nightgown at 3 a.m. the next day. Law enforcement was unaware that he had given a false identity - his brother's - until after the escape.
Nicholson was arrested Dec. 15 by the Greeley Police Department on unrelated charges. He has remained in custody since that time in Routt and Weld counties. Nicholson was shackled during his court appearance Monday.