Sentenced in April to 12 months in prison for filing a false federal tax return, a Cortez woman has since been charged with four counts of theft by local authorities.
After receiving the federal sentence, local authorities charged Lisa Balderrama, 51, with four counts of felony theft in July. Last week, she entered a plea deal on a single theft count, which stipulates four years of supervised probation, 100 hours of community service and restitution totaling more than $302,000.
Extradited from a federal facility in Phoenix, Balderrama remains in custody at the Montezuma Couny jail awaiting sentencing on Sept. 29.
Federal investigators found that Balderrama embezzled some $280,000 in cash payments from Empire Electric customers from 2009 through 2012. She served as a customer service representative for nearly seven years.
She pleaded guilty to tax fraud on Dec. 2, 2014, after failing to report a combined total income of more than $277,000 on her tax returns from 2010 to 2013. The tax loss to the IRS totaled nearly $65,000.
Empire's insurance carrier reportedly reimbursed all losses.
Balderrama previously worked at The Cortez Journal. She left in 2005.