Cortez woman sentenced in tax-fraud case

by 4cfp | April 10, 2015 4:49 pm

A Cortez woman who embezzled funds from Empire Electric has been sentenced to 12 months in federal prison.
Lisa Kay Balderrama, 50, was sentenced earlier this week by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Marcia S. Krieger to serve 12 months in federal prison for filing a false tax return, United States Attorney John Walsh and IRS Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge Steven A. Osborne announced in a press release.
Following her prison sentence, Balderrama was ordered to serve 1 year on supervised release.
Balderrama was also ordered by Chief Judge Krieger to pay $64,477 in restitution to the IRS. The defendant was ordered to report to a Bureau of Prisons facility within 48 hours of designation.
Balderrama waived her right to indictment, and thus was charged by Information on October 20, 2014.  She pled guilty before Chief Judge Krieger on December 4, 2014.
According to information contained in the stipulated facts of the plea agreement as well as the Information, Balderrama began working for Empire Electric Association in Cortez in December 2005 as a customer services representative. At the end of October 2012, accounting employees for Empire noted that the manual check register was not reconciling with internal bookkeeping and that the two were off by over $200,000. These employees brought this to Balderrama’s attention, questioning whether certain deposits had been made. Balderrama convinced the other employees that deposits had gone into the bank, that everything was okay, and that she would find the discrepancy.
In mid-December 2012, the defendant was again questioned about the discrepancy and about a $277,000 electronic transaction she had posted on October 22, 2012. The following Monday, Balderrama reported to work and confessed to her superiors that she had stolen approximately $280,000 from Empire Electric. The investigation revealed that from approximately 2009 through 2012, Balderrama stole money from customers who paid cash for their electric bills.  Empire’s accountant conducted an investigation into their books and found that $277,035 in adjustments had been made to 184 accounts in order to cover the shortages due to Balderrama’s thefts.
Balderrama failed to report a combined total income of $277,035 on her tax returns in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The tax loss to the IRS which resulted from Balderrama’s false statements totaled $64,477.
“As the defendant Balderrama learned in this case, regardless of the source of income, if you don’t pay taxes on it, you will be held criminally accountable,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh in a release. “With tax day approaching, this case serves as a reminder that we all report our taxable income, and pay any taxes due.”
“As we approach the end of tax filing season, this is a reminder that all taxpayers should file complete and accurate tax returns or they will be held accountable; all income regardless of the source is taxable,” said Steven A. Osborne, Acting Special Agent In Charge for IRS Criminal Investigation, Denver Field Office.
This case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Cortez City Police Department.
Balderrama is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dondi Osborne in the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Durango Branch Office.

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