Denver Woman Sentenced for Embezzling Funds From University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

DENVER (LAWFUEL) – Colleen C. Ertle, age 54, of Denver, Colorado, was sentenced last week by U.S. District Court Judge Marcia S. Krieger, to serve 3 years probation, with the first 12 months in home detention with electronic monitoring, for embezzling funds from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Judge Krieger also ordered Ertle to pay restitution to the federal government totaling $80,746.

Colleen C. Ertle was charged by Information on May 29, 2008. She pled guilty before Judge Krieger on October 8, 2008. She was sentenced on December 29, 2008.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) is a non-profit consortium of various North American universities, the primary purpose of which was to promote and facilitate academic research in atmospheric and related sciences. As one of its functions, UCAR manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) on behalf of the National Science Foundation (NSF), an independent federal agency. Through NCAR and other programs that it administers, UCAR provides research, observation and computing facilities, as well as education and other support services for academic research in atmospheric and related sciences. UCAR is located in Boulder, Colorado and receives a substantial portion of its funding from NSF and other federal agencies.

According to the stipulated facts contained in the defendant’s plea agreement, Ertle was employed by UCAR as manager of the Imaging and Design Center (IDC). The IDC provides design, photographic, and copying services in connection with brochures, newsletters and other print and visual media. Ertle was responsible, among other things, for contracting the IDC’s larger printing and design projects to outside vendors.

Ertle used her position to illegally solicit broker fees from two printing vendors. One vendor received approximately $217,192 from UCAR based on invoices approved by Ertle in 2002 and 2003. A second vendor received approximately $450,456 from UCAR between 2003 to 2005 as a result of its relationship with Ertle. Ertle personally received $80,746 in illicit kickback payments from the two UCAR vendors from 2002 to 2005.

“Would-be embezzlers, beware: We prosecute illicit kickbacks and other schemes to defraud the taxpayers,” said United States Attorney Troy Eid.

This case was investigated by the National Science Foundation’s Office of Inspector General.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Harmon.

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