Crystal Collier avoided jail time but will pay the City of Great Bend $10,000 in restitution as part of her sentence for stealing from her former employer. The former Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau Director appeared Tuesday in Barton County District Court before Judge Scott McPherson.
Collier was found guilty last October of one count of theft by deception, a level 7 felony. Under the terms of a plea agreement, a second criminal count was dismissed.
She received the standard sentence of 12 months in prison followed by a year of supervised probation. However, it is also standard to waive that sentence in favor of 24 months of probation with another 12 months of post-release supervision, based on the defendant’s criminal history. A pre-sentencing investigation (PSI) showed this was Collier’s first conviction.
Collier is to complete restitution payment within 12 months.
McPherson asked if any of the victims were present and wished to address the court. Assistant County Attorney Douglas Matthews said people had been notified of the court appearance. “Apparently, nobody has chosen to be here.”
She was originally charged with one count of theft by deception and one count of making a false information. Both charges stemmed from allegations that she illegally obtained money in connection with her position at the GB-CVB prior to her retirement at the end of 2015. A news release issued by the Barton County Attorney’s Office on March 22 after her preliminary hearing stated, “As the result of discrepancies noted in reimbursements for expenses paid to her by the GB-CVB, almost $35,000 could not be accounted for during an examination of her credit card transactions against other documents.”
Payment to Great Bend
After Collier left the Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau it became a City of Great Bend office, so Collier will pay her restitution to the City Office and not the CVB office.
At her last court appearance, Matthews said the amount of restitution had not been specified but the charge was based on “over $35,000 in expenses claimed” from July 28, 2012, through Jan. 13, 2015, while Collier was director of GB-CVB.
Defense attorney Dennis Keenan said they had since discussed the restitution and come to an agreement.
Other fees Collier will be required to pay totaled $558. That included a $200 fee to submit a DNA sample to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Collier was instructed to report to the Barton County Sheriff’s Office after the hearing to provide the DNA swab.
Judge McPherson also advised her that as a convicted felon she is not allowed to possess a firearm for at least five years, that she has the right to attempt to have the crime expunged from her record in the future, and that she has 14 days if she wishes to appeal her sentence.
Collier must also abide by all conditions set down in her probation agreement. Since she now lives in Lawrence, it will be up to probationers in Douglas County to determine if there are travel restrictions and whether she can cross the state line without prior approval. The judge did agree to delete one “standard condition” of probation that prohibits the use of alcohol or illegal drugs. Her PSI revealed that Collier hadn’t used illegal drugs since 1975 and she only drinks an occasional glass of wine. Matthews agreed that her crime was not related to drug or alcohol use and did not object.
McPherson said he would drop the requirement. Although using drugs illegally would still be a violation of her probation, this means she won’t be subject to random drug tests.