AZTEC — A Farmington woman will spend six months in jail after she admitted in court that she took money from local businesses under the guise of a fake charity.
District Judge John Dean last Thursday sentenced Shawna Tobin, 36, to six months in jail followed by four and a half years of supervised probation.
Tobin pleaded guilty in July to four counts of fourth-degree felony fraud. Under the terms of her plea agreement, 11 misdemeanor fraud charges were dismissed, according to court documents.
Prosecutors said in the plea agreement they agreed to suspend Tobin's jail sentence in favor of probation, according to court documents.
Tobin apologized during the hearing and her attorney, Brad Kerwin, told Dean her remorse was genuine and asked for a conditional discharge, which is when defendants are not punished if they comply with certain conditions.
Dean denied the request.
The judge said in court that he thought the crime was "disturbing." He said Tobin violated the public's trust and caused people to rethink charitable contributions as he handed down the jail sentence, according to a transcript of Tobin's sentencing hearing.
Tobin was arrested in November 2012 on suspicion that she used a fake charity called "Get Strong" to commit fraud.
Police said Tobin told area businesses that "Get Strong" benefited local children. She had specific needs their donations were allegedly going to pay for, including back-to-school shopping sprees for impoverished school children, a graduation project that supported local seniors and other charitable causes, according to documents. But Farmington police said there was no charity and Tobin was keeping the money for herself, according to the documents.
Police said she defrauded more than 15 businesses of more than $11,000 between August 2011 and October 2012.
Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.