A Cortez woman was sentenced to 12 months in federal prison last week after filing a false tax return.
Appearing before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Marcia S. Krieger in Denver, Lisa Kay Balderrama, 50, was also ordered to pay $64,477 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service at her sentencing on April 8. The charge arose after Balderrama embezzled some $280,000 from her employer, Empire Electric.
While working as a customer service representative in the company’s Cortez office, Balderrama repeatedly stole money from customers who paid cash for their electric bills between 2009 and 2012. Company auditors discovered that $277,035 in adjustments was made to 184 accounts.
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 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. “With tax day approaching, this case serves as a reminder that we all report our taxable income, and pay any taxes due.”
Officials said Baldarrama eventually admitted that she embezzled the money. She pleaded guilty in federal court in December.