PUEBLO – A former employee of the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment (PDPHE) is facing a felony charge of theft for allegedly taking more than $20,000 in cash from vendors payments for personal use.
An investigation started in December by the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, at the request of administrators, uncovered $21,617 missing from accounts for 2017 and 2018. At that time, 41-year-old Pablita “Paula” Rosa Martinez hadn’t worked for the department since August when she was dismissed from her job as an administrative assistant.
The issue came to light when vendors came forward with inconsistencies on their books.
According to the investigators, Martinez was one of the people responsible for making out deposit slips at the close of business each night. She’s accused of changing the slips to deduct cash payments before handing over the materials to the Budget and Finance Office.
Investigators report the original deposit slips were found in Pablita Martinez’s desk at PDPHE.
During discussions and interviews with co-workers investigators were “informed Pablita had put on some extravagant gatherings for family functions”, including a school graduation party “reported to be like a wedding with decorations, food and beverage service, etc.”
Following a review between mid-November and January, investigators sat down for a conversation with Martinez. According to an affidavit, Martinez was asked to explain “how all the deposits she submitted were missing the cash amounts on the deposit slips.” The investigator states she replied, “I can see how this is a huge arrow pointing at me.”
She explained the last two years of her life were “very stressful and very hectic” in the investigator’s words. It appears Martinez lost her job because she was unable to keep up with her workload as she had “lost two very important people in her life and she honestly didn’t have a recollection or idea of how her life go so out of control.”
Martinez never admitted or denied any involvement with the missing money. She also never denied being the person responsible for the deposits. When it came to comparing the differing deposit slips with her signature she stated, “I totally see, there’s no denying”, then followed with “what’s next?”