Man gets prison term for stealing from employer
BRECKENRIDGE – A former Fairplay man who stole $250,000 over nearly three years from his Silverthorne employer faces an eight-year sentence in prison for the felony theft.David Lantz, 47, siphoned the money from Kaupas Water Labs between November 2002 and September 2005 when he was employed as the business’ accountant.Summit County District Judge Terry Ruckriegle handed down the sentence to Lantz on Monday afternoon in Breckenridge after listening to statements from Lantz’s wife, his pastor, his marriage counselor, Lantz himself and Kaupas Water owner Ed Kaupas.”This community lives and breathes on the employment force working for employers, whether it’s ski areas or individual owners such as Mr. Kaupas,” Ruckriegle said to Lantz. “When trust is broken to the level that you broke it, it’s absolutely imperative that the community understand what the consequences of that are.”Ruckriegle cited Lantz’s violation of trust as an accountant, his efforts to hide the thefts by stopping the mail and locking the file cabinet while he was on vacation, and his lack of any attempt to pay Kaupas back as reasons for imposing the sentence he did. Lantz’s youngest son and wife wept and embraced in the front row of the courtroom after Ruckriegle read the sentence, before watching as Lantz was turned over to a sheriff’s deputy. Friends who showed up to support Lantz cried and hugged each other outside the courtroom following the one-hour hearing.During the sentencing hearing, Kaupas told Ruckriegle that the only restitution he had received from Lantz since the theft was discovered in October 2005 was a couple paychecks he withheld from Lantz and approximately $12,000 from debtors that Lantz paid through the Kaupas Water account.Kaupas said that on top of the $250,000 he lost to Lantz, he owes IRS and state penalties and interest to the tune of $160,000 due to employment taxes Lantz neglected to pay.”He left my business so far out in the wind,” Kaupas said.Lantz’s wife Glenda, tearfully apologized to Kaupas for the devastation her husband’s action caused his family. “I feel terrible. I know that, in those three years I knew that something was wrong, but I just didn’t know what it was,” Glenda said.David Lantz also offered his apologies to Kaupas, saying all he wants to do with his life is pay back the money he stole, and that he is working two jobs to accomplish that goal.He told Ruckriegle that he spent Kaupas’ money on everyday bills, such as rent, car payments, insurance, groceries and gas, although he said he did take two vacations during the span he stole the money – a cruise to the Bahamas and a family trip to Florida, each costing about $2,000.Lantz described his actions as “a desperate person doing something terribly wrong.””It wasn’t a desire, it was a desperate need to try and make my expenses and provide for my family in an area that we shouldn’t have been living in, that we couldn’t afford to live in, a house we couldn’t afford to live in, and I admit that,” Lantz said.Lantz’s attorney, Todd Barson, asked Ruckriegle to sentence his client to probation or a community corrections sentence so that Lantz could work on repaying Kaupas, and because Lantz committed a nonviolent offense and didn’t have a prior criminal record.Assistant District Attorney Karen Romeo lobbied for a 10-year prison term because of the seriousness of the crime.In the end, Ruckriegle said he felt it was important to send a message to other people who might think it’s not a big deal to steal from their employers.”It saddens me because I see your wife and your sons there and I know that it means that I am impacting them, but I have to do what my responsibility is as a community member,” he said.Ruckriegle also ordered Lantz pay $250,000 in restitution as a condition of his parole.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13625, or at email@example.com.
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