Former city worker pleads guilty

ALAMOSA – A former City of Alamosa finance director pled guilty Tuesday to felony unauthorized use of a transaction device and an added count of misdemeanor theft and was tentatively ordered to pay over $69,000 in restitution to the city.

District Judge Michael Gonzales set sentencing for Amanda McDonald, 41, for May 10 at 3:30 p.m. on a three-year deferred judgement. District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olson said an agreement on restitution couldn’t be finalized because McDonald’s attorney wasn’t present Tuesday.

In an earlier appearance, McDonald’s attorney Deputy State Public Defender James Valenti told the judge that the plea agreement was awaiting a restitution amount and the attorneys were negotiating that number.

It was noted that the restitution in this case is rather significant, and rather than turn this into a multiple day civil case over restitution, the attorneys were diligently working to arrive at a number they could agree to. Rather than have a prolonged hearing over the restitution, they were trying to arrive at a stipulated restitution, Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig said at a January hearing.

He added he has had meetings with the victim in this case as well.

At the January appearance, the judge said there’s obviously a benefit to work out the restitution figure, so he would grant another extension but would expect there would be a disposition by Tuesday’s date.

McDonald worked for the city finance department from 2007 until 2016 and served as finance director for the majority of that time. She was accused of misappropriating $65,000 in public funds and providing health insurance through the city to an unauthorized family member, which resulted in the city being charged approximately $400,000 in unauthorized premiums and insurance benefits being paid out. 

She was initially charged with felony theft, felony embezzlement of public property, felony unauthorized use of a transaction device and misdemeanor first-degree official misconduct. Three of those charges were dropped and the count of Class 1 misdemeanor theft was added.

McDonald remains free on bond.