Woman suspected of stealing nearly $70,000 from former Steamboat employer

Kayla Dawn Barker turned herself in to police Wednesday

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Kayla Dawn Barker

— A 31-year-old woman is suspected of stealing nearly $70,000 from her former employer.

An arrest affidavit states that Kayla Dawn Barker took the money by forging checks while working as a bookkeeper at Aspen Grove Plumbing and Heat­­­ing in Steam­­boat Springs. Police began investigating the theft Nov. 14, 2009, after Aspen Grove owner Kevin Desh­­azer reported it. By that time, Barker had quit working for Deshazer and had moved to Missouri.

Steamboat Springs Police Department Detective Jerry Stabile said they tried to find her by contacting law enforcement agencies in Missouri, but it was not until recently, when Barker was traveling through an airport, that it was discovered there was a warrant for her arrest. She turned herself in and was booked into Routt County Jail on Wednesday.

Barker was released in lieu of $20,000 bail shortly after she was booked. She is accused of felony theft and forgery and is scheduled to appear in court at 2 p.m. Feb. 9. Stabile said Steamboat Springs lawyer Drew Johnroe is representing Barker. Johnroe did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday.

Deshazer told police in Sep­­­tem­­ber 2009 that Barker had forged at least 40 checks from his business account totaling $69,628.14.

A bookkeeper hired after Barker left noticed the discrepancy, according to the affidavit. The bookkeeper also found that the payee on the checks was not the same one documented in the business’ accounting software. The bookkeeper thought Barker “made these changes to avoid the detection of her criminal activity,” the affidavit states. Numerous checks had been written out to hospitals and medical-related businesses.

“It appeared to be for medical treatments,” Stabile said Friday.

According to the affidavit, checks totaling $48,000 also were written to two banks in the Fort Collins area, where Barker had accounts.

During the investigation, Stabile had contacted Barker by e-mail and also was speaking with her parents. Stabile said he learned that Barker had moved from Steamboat because she was suffering from muscular dystrophy. Barker also was expecting a child.

According to the affidavit, Stabile spoke with Barker in April 2010 by telephone and asked her about the checks that had been deposited into her Fort Collins bank accounts. Barker said they were bonus checks. Stabile then asked Barker about the discrepancy between whom the checks were written out to and what appeared in the business’ accounting records.

“Kayla could not provide an explanation and insisted that she had done nothing wrong,” Stabile said in the affidavit.

Deshazer later told Stabile that the most Barker would have received while working there for four years would have been $4,500 in cash. Deshazer did not return a call seeking comment Friday.

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