The former executive director of a Cortez nonprofit that serves victims of domestic violence was sentenced Tuesday to two days in jail an ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution for stealing from the organization’s thrift store.
In a statement read in court, Cheryl J. Beene, 60, said the hardest part for her was being in front of Judge Todd Plewe and District Attorney Will Furse. In her 15 years as executive director of Renew Inc., she attended court to support victims of domestic violence but had now become a defendant.
She said she could have a should have made better decisions and for that she is “truly sorry.”
Beene was originally charged with felony counts of theft and witness tampering but ultimately pleaded guilty in January to misdemeanor theft between $750 and $2,000 for stealing an XBOX 360 gaming system donated to Renew from Child’s Play, a Washington state nonprofit, with a custom-built cabinet from Elevation Exhibits and Events.
The game system and cabinet were valued at $2,310, according to a Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office incident report.
Furse said that in all the time he has known Beene, her heart has been in the right place. But he said she took advantage of her time and position with Renew and stole money from the nonprofit that she led. He said the Renew organization might not survive after Beene’s actions and the transition into new leadership.
Plewe said the most disturbing thing that happened after the allegations against Beene first surfaced in October 2018 is the number of victims of domestic violence seeking protection orders has dropped off. He said that’s not because there are fewer victims of domestic violence, but rather Renew had bottomed out because of Beene’s actions.
“That’s something you have to live with,” Plewe said.
But Plewe said this country allows second chances, and Beene needs to give herself a second chance.
“It is time, Mrs. Beene, to pick yourself up and move on,” he said.
He sentenced Beene to two days at the Montezuma County Detention Center and 12 months unsupervised probation, and ordered her to pay $2,000 in restitution in addition to court costs.
She is also required to write an apology letter to Renew.
Lynn Urban, a member of Renew’s transitional board, said Wednesday that Renew has hired Tracy Blagg of Cahone as new executive director and believes that the organization is viable.
“We’re continuing to serve clients,” she said.
The transitional board was set up to review policies and procedures and is looking for new, permanent board members, Urban said.
“Work needs to be done. We’re moving forward,” she added.
Blagg formerly worked at Dolores County Senior Services, according to Urban. Urban is president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Colorado.
Trent Stephens contributed to this report.