Couple sentenced for Routt County construction scam
Taufens stole an estimated $950,000 from local victims
January 27, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Two Routt County victims were disappointed to learn Friday that a Kremmling man will not serve time in prison after he stole an estimated $950,000 from them in a construction scam.
"I'm upset about the outcome," victim Pat Boyer said. "I'm glad he got the 22 years' probation. I'm disappointed he didn't get the prison time."
Judge Shelley Hill sentenced Curt Taufen and his wife, Jill Taufen, after they pleaded guilty to felony theft. Hill said it was her ultimate goal to make sure the Taufens paid the victims back the money they stole. A prison sentence could limit their ability to repay the victims, and Hill said white-collar criminals end up serving a small amount of time in prison because of overcrowding.
"It will do no good to send Mr. Taufen to prison because he will be out in a second," Hill said.
Curt Taufen was thought to have led the fraud with his wife as an accomplice.
During sentencing, Connie Harvey, an 80-year-old widow who owns a ranch off Routt County Road 64, told the judge how the Taufens took $634,000 from her. Harvey hired the Taufens' company, Distinguished Builders, to build a house on her ranch for an employee and his family in 2008.
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"This was the beginning of a still unending nightmare," Harvey said.
Taufen never followed through on building the home.
Boyer also hired Taufen to build a home, which was not completed, and Boyer said Taufen took $314,000 of his money.
On Monday, the Taufens pleaded guilty to theft in Summit County for stealing $329,000 from a woman who hired Distinguished Builders in 2009 to build a home.
Boyer told the judge that investigators told him there are other victims and that the Taufens stole millions.
"My sense is that this started small and steamrolled, and you didn't know how to stop it," Hill said to Curt Taufen during sentencing. "It was not only wrong and sinful, it was highly criminal."
The Taufens were ordered to repay the victims, and the exact amount will be determined during a hearing at a later date.
"I've never had a case with this much restitution," Routt County Chief Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle said.
Hill sentenced Curt Taufen to 30 days in Routt County Jail and 22 years' supervised probation. In Summit County, he was sentenced to 60 days in jail and 10 years' probation.
Hill sentenced Jill Taufen to three years' supervised probation and 200 hours' community service. Unlike her husband, she was given a deferred judgement and sentence, meaning the felony will not appear on her record if she successfully completes the terms of her probation. In Summit County, she was sentenced to five days in jail and four years' probation.
The lengthy probation sentences were handed down as a way to ensure the victims are paid back. If the Taufens are unable to make restitution payments, it will be considered a violation of their probations.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com