FARMINGTON — A woman who allegedly used a fake charity to swindle local business has applied to a diversion program in an attempt to avoid charges.

Shawna Tobin, 36, was arrested Nov. 13 and charged with third-degree felony fraud.

Farmington police originally accused Tobin of stealing $6,000 from 16 local businesses on behalf of Get Strong, a charity that police don't believe exists, Detective Robert Pimentel said.

Since her arrest, more victims have come forward and police now suspect she stole more than $11,000 from 32 businesses, he said.

Tobin has applied to the district attorney's office to be part of a pre-prosecution diversion program. If she completes the program the charges against her will be dismissed, Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said.

She is yet to be accepted into the program. To be accepted, Tobin will have to pay back about half of the money she is accused of stealing and create a payment plan for the remaining money, he said.

She will also have to admit to the crime.

"That's a good thing," Pimentel said. "The businesses have said they will take the money they get back and give it to a legitimate charity."

From August 2011 to October 2012, Tobin repeatedly sought and received donations from local businesses for Get Strong, according to court documents.

Tobin worked at Conoco-Philips while she was reportedly seeking donations. A manager at the company contacted police in October when she found Tobin used the company's letterhead to ask for money, according to court documents.


Advertisement

Police said Tobin sent out flyers asking for $200 for a back-to-school shopping event that was to help 1,611 San Juan County children.

Tobin also told business owners that Get Strong used donations to provide graduation caps and gowns to impoverished high school seniors, police said. She also told business owners the organization needed emergency funds for children suffering in horrific living conditions, police said.

All the businesses allegedly targeted were locally owned and included Roadrunner Car Wash, A-Plus Well Service, Johnny's Radiator Service, Octopus Express Wash and Los Hermanitos.

Tobin was aggressive and sought multiple of donations from each business, police said.

A-Plus Well Service gave her seven $100 to $200 donations in 2011. Magic Roofing gave her 12 checks, according to court documents.

"Tobin contacted the businesses by email, phone calls and faxes," Pimentel wrote in a police report. "During her phone calls she was persistent about obtaining donations. Most business owners told me they received so many requests from her that they blocked her email from coming in and stopped answering her phone calls."

Reached Tuesday, Tobin declined to comment.