DENVER (CBS4) – A woman who admitted she stole money from a charity that used calendars of firefighters to raise money for The Children’s Hospital burn unit is heading to jail.
Kirsten Hamling started the nonprofit Fired Up For Kids in 2004, with the intent being to sell those calendars to help injured children. But investigators say starting in 2005 she began using funds for personal use.
Hamling pled guilty to felony theft earlier this year as part of a plea deal, admitting she stole more than $240,000 from her charity.
Hamling shed a few tears in her sentencing hearing Friday morning, but her cries didn’t stop the judge from handing down the toughest sentence she could.
Hamling was sentenced to spend 90 days behind bars with work release and to pay $250,000 in restitution charges. The judge also sentenced her to 10 years of probation.
In court Hamling’s father and brother-in-law said Hamling is a kind, loving person and asked the judge not to send her to jail. They said such a sentence would burden the family, including Hamling’s two young daughters.
The president of the Colorado Firefighter Calendar also spoke in court and begged the judge to hold Hamling responsible for what she had wrongfully taken.
Before she was sentenced Hamling addressed the court with the following words:
“Words cannot express how sorry I am and how badly I feel. … I’ve also done a lot of things right. … I’m a good person. I’m a good mother. I’m a good wife.”
Barbara Brooks, a former worker for the charity, said she was disappointed the sentence couldn’t be stronger.
“I think a lot of us would have liked to have seen her spend a little more time in jail to think about what she’s done, who she’s stolen from and the magnitude of the people that have been negatively affected by this,” Brooks told CBS4.
As for the calendar, it relaunched earlier this year under new leadership and the name Colorado Firefighter Inc.
Firefighters who posed in the new calendar as well as past ones told CBS4 they simply wanted to do the right thing to help the children who need the treatment at Children’s.
The investigation of Fired Up For Kids found, among other expenses, payments for Hamling’s school tuition for a child, a fitness club, a Disneyland trip, car repairs, and Nordstrom.