Criminal charges have been filed against a Grand Junction man who embezzled $223,000 from the Mesa Hotlines School.
Although James Rowley paid back every penny with interest, the case may be one of the first handled by a special task force headed up by the Mesa County District Attorneys Office.
While campaigning for district attorney, Pete Hautzinger promised to crack down on white–collar crimes, and with the white–collar task force scheduled to assemble in the next few weeks, Hautzinger says the Rowley case may be a good one to start things off.
As treasurer of the Mesa Hotlines School, Rowley embezzled $223,000 from the school between 1998 and 2004. He then went on to work for Mesa State College in August, 2004, as an instructor in Utec's Electric Line–worker Program, however it's important to note that Rowley's embezzlement occurred before being employed by Mesa State. The Hotlines School has no direct affiliation with U-TEC, or Mesa State.
Once the missing funds were discovered during an audit last year, Rowley was hit with civil charges and forced to pay back what he stole. Now, despite taking care of the civil charges, the Mesa County District Attorney's Office felt criminal charges were necessary. Hautzinger says the task force's thinking will deviate slightly when dealing with white–collar crimes, but will make examples of every act.
Hautzinger adds, while Rowley's case may be the first under the task force's structure, it's not a model case as the criminal has already admitted to the crime and been involved with civil charges.
The task force will be a multi–pronged attack. Aside from prosecution, the task force will attempt to educate Mesa County residents from becoming victims themselves.
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