Ex-county employee accused of embezzlement

Steve Garrison
Jamie Alison Sheets

AZTEC — A 36-year-old former San Juan County employee has been arrested on allegations she stole county funds.

Jamie Sheets, or Jamie Moats, was charged July 7 in Aztec Magistrate Court with second- and third-degree counts of embezzlement on allegations she misused a county credit card and skimmed cash from solid waste transfer stations. Police allege Sheets stole an estimated $35,570 in cash and fuel.

Sheets' attorney, Arlon Stoker, said today his client maintains her innocence.

"I can tell you she has an abundance of defenses and denies culpability," Stoker said.

San Juan County Attorney Doug Echols said Sheets is no longer a county employee.

A detective with the San Juan County Sheriff's Office learned on Feb. 18 of the allegations against the solid waste department employee.

As an employee, Sheets was provided a credit card to purchase fuel for a truck she used for county business.

The county's chief human resource officer, Charlene Scott, told the detective an audit of financial statements revealed the credit card was used to purchase fuel on holidays and weekends. The card was also used to purchase diesel fuel, though Sheets operated a nondiesel vehicle.

Sheets was questioned about the payments and allegedly told the county's public works administrator she or her boyfriend may have inadvertently used the card for personal expenses. She allegedly offered to reimburse the county for the misspent funds, which totaled $3,328.

The county further hired an auditor to perform a "mini-audit" of financial records for cash collected from the county's solid waste transfer stations. The auditor determined Sheets had also stolen an estimated $32,242 in cash from the transfer stations.

Police executed a search warrant at Sheets' Aztec residence on Feb. 29. Officers seized financial records and ledger books used to track cash payments at the transfer stations.

Sheets was arrested July 7 and was released after she posted a $30,000 bond, according to court records.

Stoker denied Sheets stole funds. He said Sheets reported the credit card used in the thefts as missing last year, but county officials never canceled it. Sheets further claims the credit card was used by another employee, who has since resigned from the public works department.

In regard to the missing cash, Stoker said transfer station funds were handled by several employees.

"There is no way she could have embezzled that money," Stoker said. "They have cameras everywhere. There are no witnesses that said she did it."

Echols said the county is working with its auditor to enact policies and practices that discourage future thefts. He said the county will seek restitution, either through the criminal court or civil action.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.