Breckenridge Film Festival embezzlement case ends in guilty plea
June 2, 2014
Dawna Foxx pleaded guilty Monday, June 2, to one count each of theft of $1,000 to $20,000, a Class 4 felony, and second-degree forgery, a misdemeanor, during a hearing in Summit County District Court.
Foxx, 67, was originally facing 23 felony counts including theft, identity theft and forgery for allegedly embezzling close to $250,000 from her ex-husband, his business partner and her former employer — the Breckenridge Film Festival. The charges were amended to reach a plea deal with the 5th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
"I was interested to see what arrangement would be reached today," said 5th Judicial Chief Judge Mark Thompson, who is presiding over the case. "It would have been very difficult for the court to accept something less than felony responsibility in this case."
Foxx is scheduled for sentencing from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Aug. 11, in district court where she faces the presumptive sentencing range of two years to six years in the Colorado Department of Corrections, three years of mandatory parole and a fine of $2,000 to $500,000 for the felony theft charge. Foxx also faces six months to 18 months in the county jail and a fine of $500 to $5,000 for the misdemeanor forgery charge.
“Six years is not enough because she hurt a lot of people, myself included, and she did it maliciously. I’m sorry she has to go to prison, but she committed a crime and now she has to pay the consequences.”
Foxx's attorney, J.B. Katz of Breckenridge, also said a lengthy probation sentence is on the table for the court's consideration at sentencing.
Foxx also agreed to pay a total of $110,000 in restitution to the alleged victims in the case, including $90,000 to the Breckenridge Film Festival — formerly the Breckenridge Festival of Film — and $10,000 each to her ex-husband, Ron Foxx, and his business partner.
During the hearing, deputy district attorney John Franks said the agreed restitution is significantly less than what the district attorney's office thinks is the actual total sum of money allegedly stolen. As such, the deal also requires Foxx to participate in financial tracing with investigators.
"When you have large-scale theft over a period of several years there's questions about where the money went," Franks said after the hearing. "We (the DA's Office) have an obligation not to charge beyond what we can prove, but there is some uncertainty about how much money was actually taken.
"Should we find she (Foxx) has not been forthcoming about her financial situation, we reserve the right to ask the court reopen the case and order more restitution if necessary."
However, Katz said during the hearing that Foxx, now residing in Kansas, has no financial assets and is living on Social Security benefits. Despite the lack of funds, Katz said her client accepted the deal to save the Breckenridge Film Festival from a public trial.
"Ms. Foxx does not agree with the amount stolen as stated in court records and is only admitting to factual guilt of theft in the amount of $1,000 to $20,000," Katz said. "She's taking this deal because she loves the film festival.
"The town of Breckenridge has and continues to support the film festival and she believes going ahead with a trial would be damaging to the community."
After the hearing, Ron Foxx said he was decidedly against the deal, saying he doesn't think his ex-wife can afford to pay a penny of restitution. Franks said Ron Foxx signed off on the deal and then recanted after it was already too late to pull the offer from the table.
"In my victim statement, I requested she receive 23 years in prison — one for each (original) count," Ron Foxx said. "Six years is not enough because she hurt a lot of people, myself included, and she did it maliciously. I'm sorry she has to go to prison, but she committed a crime and now she has to pay the consequences."
Between 2004 and 2012 Foxx was the executive director of the Breckenridge Festival of Film, now known as the Breckenridge Film Festival. The case against her stems from allegations that between 2007 and 2012 Foxx stole close to $250,000 from her ex-husband, his business partner and the film festival, a Summit County nonprofit.
Records from a several months long investigation by the Breckenridge Police Department alleges Foxx stole about $20,000 from her husband, Ron Foxx, and about $16,000 from his business partner, according to the arrest affidavit filed in November 2013. Foxx also allegedly embezzled more than $210,000 from the Festival of Film, according to court records.
Foxx had been using film festival accounts for her personal use, in a manner not authorized by the board of directors, records stated. Foxx allegedly used fraudulent checks and credit cards to pay for personal items, including clothing, rental cars, airline tickets, utility bills and gardening supplies, as well as gambling expenses.
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