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Colorado health exchange director arrested for fraud

Criminal defense often brings to mind violent crimes, but that's not always the case. Those arrested for white collar crimes also need representation and should be afforded the same innocent-until-proven-guilty status as those accused of other unlawful acts. The director of Colorado's heath exchange has recently been charged with the traditionally white collar crime of fraud, stemming from accusations that the 51-year-old woman stole from a nonprofit housing agency.

According to the indictment, the woman is accused of paying herself for consulting services while she was also on the full-time employee payroll of Housing Montana. The indictment also claims that the woman used money from the agency to pay family bills and fund personal travel, charged homeowners for a warranty that wasn't real, inflated her hours and converted a laptop for her own personal use.

She is currently on administrative leave and has pleaded not guilty to a total of eight counts of theft and fraud. The woman was indicted on Jan. 16 and entered her plea on Feb. 6. Although the nonprofit housing agency was located in Montana, the charges are causing waves in Colorado. The woman apparently notified Connect for Health of the charges against her on Feb. 10. A Connect for Health spokesman has told the media that the woman was fully vetted with a criminal background check, and her references were also contacted before she was hired in Colorado in March 2013.

She has been released and is awaiting trial in June. If convicted, she could face prison time as well as a hefty fine of $250,000. Accusations of fraud or other white collar crimes like tax avoidance, falsifying records or identity theft are serious and can carry large penalties and long-term consequences. While this case is still under investigation, those facing similar situations may benefit from talking with a legal professional who has experience in criminal law in order to fully understand the charges and possible options for defense.

Source: National Review Online, "Colorado health-exchange director indicted for fraud, theft" Jillian Kay Melchior, Feb. 13, 2014

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