JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– The woman named “Democrat of The Year” this year by the Jefferson County Democratic Party has been convicted of felony theft by a Jefferson County jury for stealing from a developmentally disabled 71-year-old woman.
“The jury did right,” said Cindy Maxwell, an advocate for the victim.
On Thursday, a jury convicted 66-year-old Estelle Carson of felony identify theft and felony theft from an at risk adult for stealing checks from the woman and using them to pay her own cable, cell phone and internet bills.
The victim is partially blind, developmentally disabled, has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. She is on a fixed income of $596 per month according to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.
Nearly as bothersome as the theft itself to Maxwell and other supporters of the victim, is the fact the Jefferson County Democratic Party was made aware of the ongoing criminal investigation and honored Carson anyway.
According to documents obtained by CBS4, in November of 2011, the Jeffco Democratic Party announced it planned to honor Carson for her activism on behalf of Democratic causes and her efforts to register voters.
But three days before the January 8 gala, advocates for the victim contacted the party via email and phone informing them of the criminal investigation.
One wrote “I am completely appalled,” to learn of the planned honor. The woman suggested the Democratic Party should “un-invite Estelle and not follow through with this honor.”
Cindy Maxwell told CBS4 she informed Democratic Party officials that Carson had already confessed to the theft as part of the investigation.
But Chris Kennedy, chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic party, dismissed the concerns saying there was not a conviction and bestowed the “Democrat Of The Year” honor on Carson.
In an email following the event, Kennedy wrote, “After much consideration, my decision was that the award being presented by my organization and the alleged financial exploitation need to be compartmentalized, one having no bearing on the other. Thus I decided to present the award to Estelle.”
“I thought it was outrageous,” said Maxwell, “I was appalled.”
Kennedy reiterated to CBS4 that he went ahead with the award because Carson had only been accused, not convicted.
“I did not have reason to believe it was true,” said Kennedy.
Now that Carson has been convicted, Cindy Maxwell is asking the Jefferson County Democratic Party to rescind the honor.
“I’d like to see her stripped of that award. I have been a Democrat my entire life. I’m disappointed they would allow something like that to happen,” said Maxwell.
CBS4 called Estelle Carson but her voicemail message said her mailbox was full. She is due in court in December for sentencing. She faces a maximum of nine years in prison for the two felony charges.
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com