Aztec woman pleads guilty to embezzling $150,000 from area water user's association

The woman pleaded guilty during a Feb. 22 court hearing

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • Cherileen Henry, 45, embezzled about $150,000 from the Upper La Plata Water Users Association between January 2016 and December 2019.
  • She was sentenced on Feb. 22 to five years of supervised probation by Chief District Court Judge Karen Townsend in Aztec District Court
  • If Henry violates her probation, she could serve up to nine years in the New Mexico Department of Corrections.

FARMINGTON — An Aztec woman has pleaded guilty to embezzling about $150,000 from an area water user's association, agreeing to pay about $75,000 in restitution while on probation.

Cherileen Henry, 45, was sentenced on Feb. 22 to five years of supervised probation by Chief District Court Judge Karen Townsend in Aztec District Court, according to court documents.

Henry pleaded guilty on the same day to a second-degree felony count of embezzlement (over $20,000) and a felony count of tampering with evidence was dismissed.

The woman embezzled about $150,000 from the Upper La Plata Water Users Association between January 2016 and December 2019, according to The Daily Times archives.

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Cherileen Henry

If Henry violates her probation, she could serve up to nine years in the New Mexico Department of Corrections.

Arlon Stoker, Henry’s attorney, told The Daily Times he had numerous conversations with the prosecution regarding restitution. He added she needs to be on probation and working in order to pay the restitution.

San Juan County District Attorney's Office Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O’Brien told The Daily Times it’s the DA’s office's goal to monitor her restitution payments.

If she fails to pay restitution, the DA’s office will move to have serve her prison sentence.

Henry’s restitution plan to pay $75,198.44 in $600 a month payments was approved by the state department of corrections on Feb. 24.

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The amount of restitution Henry owes was the amount negotiated between Stoker and the DA’s office as part of the plea agreement.

Henry was charged on Feb. 21, 2020, following a San Juan County Sheriff’s Office investigation.

She embezzled the $150,000 through various methods including writing herself extra paychecks, making unauthorized credit card charges and embezzling cash payments from members of the water users association.

The arrest warrant affidavit only listed about $54,000 of the stolen funds. 

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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