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CB marshals crack extensive fraud case in the valley

Lots of shoe leather leads to arrest of Gunnison woman

by Mark Reaman

The Crested Butte Marshal’s Office caught up with a local woman who was illegally using credit cards that did not belong to her. After a lengthy investigation led by deputy marshal Sean Besecker, 45-year-old Julie Johnson Scott of Gunnison was charged with 94 felonies and one misdemeanor.

According to Crested Butte chief marshal Mike Reily, Scott “was an employee at an Elk Avenue business who had physical access to, but not permission to use any of, the company credit cards. She took one card from a drawer and when that one stopped working she took others. The cards were used in Gunnison, Crested Butte, Leadville and Silverthorne to buy a range of different items.”

Several thousand dollars in illegal charges were made through numerous transactions and accrued on three Studio West credit cards over the course of a week at the end of December. All the cards belonged to the business and no cards from customers were involved.

The investigation began in late December 2018 when Besecker received a complaint regarding the unauthorized use of a credit card from the Elk Avenue business. Reily said his officers ran down several leads and viewed hours of surveillance video at various retailers where suspect purchases had been made. The end result was to tie Scott to the fraudulent transactions.

Ultimately, Scott was responsible for one misdemeanor charge and 94 felony charges related to the fraudulent use of financial transaction devices. She is facing 42 counts of felony identity theft, eight counts of forgery, 42 counts of unauthorized use of a financial transaction device, one count of criminal possession of two or more financial devices, one count of theft and one misdemeanor count of criminal attempt of theft.

According to a press release from the Marshal’s Office, an estimated 80 man-hours went into investigating this case and another 20 man-hours went into serving the search warrant and processing the evidence.

The investigation culminated on February 13 when the marshals obtained an arrest warrant for Scott. A search warrant for her residence at 1201 W. Tomichi in Gunnison was conducted by officers by the Crested Butte Marshal’s Office, where Johnson was taken into custody without incident.

“The warrant recovered many of the items which were illegally purchased,” explained Reily. “Sean had to comb through financial records [and] video surveillance footage, conduct a number of interviews with witnesses, and connect with retailers and their security. It was an incredibly involved theft/identity theft case.”

Reily said that type of incident is not a common occurrence in the valley but gave Besecker and his marshals big kudos for pursuing the issue and solving the case.

Scott will appear in Gunnison District Court on February 28 at 9 a.m. for a status conference.

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