During the recession, most businesses specializing in big ticket items have found the going rough. So it's something of a surprise that Christine Sylvester, a title and billing clerk for Windish RV Center just sentenced to five years in jail, was able to steal almost $1 million between 2007 and 2010 -- years that neatly correspond to the economic downturn. How did she do it? Details below.
According to the arrest affidavit in the matter, on view in its entirety below, Sylvester provided investigators with a statement laying out her scheme. It read:
I Christine Sylvester started taking money from Windish RV Center in November 2007. I used a company name of L.F.C. that I created so I could open a business account and deposit checks into that. There is no one else involved. I did this on my own accord. I would create a payoff check in the name of L.F.C. and then deposit it into an account at Compass Bank. The amount that I was told it was $927,000. Some larger items that was purchased was 2007 Honda Element, traded in on a 2006 Infinity, traded in on 2009 Xtera, and a 2009 Xtera purchased by cash (check). Some jewelry, clothes, vacations, and helping friends out. I do not gamble or use drugs. No other property was bought.
Apparently, Sylvester wasn't as fastidious with numbers as someone in her position should be. According to the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office, the amount she swiped topped out at $951,000, a good $24,000 more than she estimated in her written confession. Guess she rounded down instead of up.
Look below to see the Jeffco DA's office narrative about Sylvester's sentencing, the aforementioned affidavit and a larger look at her booking photo:
Jefferson County District Attorney's Office release:
Prison for Conifer Woman who Steals $951,000 from Employer
A 40-year-old Conifer woman was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison for stealing almost a million dollars from her Lakewood employer. Christine Alice Sylvester was a title and billing clerk at Windish RV Center at 11275 West 6th Avenue for almost three years, from the spring of 2007 until March, 2010. From November 2007 until the end of 2010 she stole $951,000 from the company.
Sylvester created a fictitious company, Leisure Financial Company (LFC), in January 2007 for the sole purpose of opening a business account at a local bank where she could deposit the stolen funds. As title and billing clerk Sylvester wrote payoff checks to financial institutions following transactions that included a trade-in with the purchase of a RV. Sylvester wrote the actual payoff checks, but would also write duplicate checks using the same VIN number and transaction date made out to her phony company, LFC. She would then deposit the checks into her fraudulent account.
The stolen money was used to finance expensive vacations and buy cars, clothes, and jewelry.
The owners of Windish RV Center became suspicious when an internal audit revealed significant discrepancies in their accounts. They called Lakewood police who began their investigation. Sylvester was arrested in July 2010.
Sylvester pled guilty to a class three felony Theft on December 13, 2010.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Alejandro Perez verdict: A stunning rebuke of Carol Chambers' death-penalty chase?"
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.