Loggers Lane treasurer admits to crime, avoids charges
March 22, 2010
Steamboat Springs — As the president of the Loggers Lane Owners' Association pulled into the bank to move money in the group's account to a long-term fund, he found the group's treasurer waiting for him.
Don't go in there, she said. The money isn't there. The money collected from the owners for everything from basic repairs to monthly bills wasn't in the account, she said. She had taken it, in bits and pieces, during the past year and a half.
Then-president Rob Ryg took the treasurer, Kati More, straight to the police station, where she confessed her crime and vowed to pay it all back. At first, police said she called it a loan but later admitted that she took the money without authorization.
Within a week, she presented the owners association with a check for $57,000, and by the time she was done paying off her debts, she had paid back a total of $70,756.89 — the money she took, plus her own dues, banker fees and enough to cover the cost of an audit.
That was in late February, and members of the association still are coming to terms with the idea that one of their neighbors could have tried to take the group's money without anyone noticing. More still has a store in the industrial area, and she's even paid up on her dues to the group to keep her and her store, Artistic Edge, in good standing.
"It's an awkward position to be in," member Nancy Schwanke said, as she sat with several other association members in one of the stores. "We need to realize our association moved on, and we need to realize how lucky we are to recover the money."
Even so, not all members, or police, are happy that More was not prosecuted for the crime she admitted to.
"We are bummed out that she couldn't be arrested," said Richard Schwanke, the new association president, even as he said he was happy to have the money back.
"She has to be accountable, and she's not," Newell Ficker said. "There's no accountability, so she could do it again."
More confirmed that the money was repaid but would not comment further. Her lawyer, Larry Combs, confirmed that the incident happened but did not want to otherwise comment.
The group members said More took the money by forging signatures on checks. At first, it was small amounts, $100 here or there, but by the time she was in full swing, More was writing checks to a new account she had set up at a separate bank for thousands of dollars at a time.
It's not clear what, if anything, she used the money for.
Hanni Schwanke, who performed the audit to get the group's accounts back on track, said the sophistication of the theft was surprising.
"After doing the audit … you can see how premeditated this was, how well thought out and how well planned it was," she said.
Steamboat Springs Police Department Detectives Capt. Bob DelValle said it is unusual for a clear-cut case to avoid prosecution.
"Typically, we will arrest a person under those circumstances, but she convinced the president of the board (Ryg, at the time) that she could come up with the money, and apparently she did," he said.
He said that if the case went to court, and there was a conviction, restitution could have taken 10 or 15 years.
"I believe that she should have had some consequences for her behavior," DelValle said.
Ryg said the shame of people knowing what More has done is punishment enough, and because the money was paid back, he doesn't want to pursue charges.
"People know that she's done this, and I think she's taken a considerable amount of embarrassment because of this, and it's pretty unusual that she would have paid this back," he said.