Cortez Woman Pleads Guilty To Filing False Tax Returns Relating To Theft Of Funds
DENVER – Lisa Kay Balderrama, age 50, of Cortez, Colorado, pled guilty last week in Durango before U.S. Magistrate Judge David L. West to making false statements on a tax return, United States Attorney John Walsh and IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Stephen Boyd announced. Balderrama is scheduled to be sentenced by a U.S. District Court in Durango on April 8, 2015.
Balderrama waived her right to be indicted and thus was charged by Information on October 20, 2014. She pled guilty before Magistrate Judge West in Durango on December 2, 2014.
According to information contained in the plea agreement as well as the Information, Lisa Balderrama began working for Empire Electric Association in Cortez, Colorado 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, she 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.
Balderrama pled guilty to one count of a false statement on a tax return, which carries a penalty of not more than 3 years in federal prison, and a fine of up to $250,000.
This case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation with assistance from 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.