In less than one year, Estelle Carson went from being Colorado’s Jefferson County Democratic Party’s “Democrat of The Year” to a convicted felon, guilty of stealing from a developmentally disabled 71-year-old woman, CBS4 reports.
That’s a pretty big fall.
“The jury did right,” Cindy Maxwell, an advocate for the victim, told CBS4.
A jury last week convicted Carson, 66, of felony identify theft and felony theft for stealing checks from a developmentally disabled woman so that she could pay her cable, cell phone, and internet bills.
“The victim is partially blind, developmentally disabled, has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair,” CBS4 reports, adding that the victim is on a fixed income of $596 per month.
What’s truly puzzling is the fact that the Jefferson County Democratic Party knew about the criminal investigation and decided to honor Carson as the “Democrat of the Year” anyway.
“[I]n 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,” documents obtained by CBS4 show. “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.”
But wait! There's more. Prior to the award, the Jeffco Democratic Party had been informed by Maxwell that Carson had confessed to the theft!
So how did the group respond to Maxwell’s bombshell news?
Chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party Chris Kennedy “dismissed the concerns saying there was not a conviction,” CBS4 notes.
“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” Kennedy explained in an email.
“I thought it was outrageous,” said Maxwell, “I was appalled.”
Kennedy reasons that because there was no conviction at the time, they had no reason to believe the accusations were true.
“I did not have reason to believe it was true,” said Kennedy.
Carson will be back in court in December for sentencing, CBS4 notes.
“She faces a maximum of nine years in prison for the two felony charges,” the report adds.
UPDATE: Following the court's decision against her, Carson has had her "Democrat of the Year" title stripped from her.
“Upon learning of Ms. Carson’s conviction and in consultation with other party leaders, I revoked her award,” Chris Kennedy, Chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, told CBS4 in a statement Monday.
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Front page photo screen grab courtesy CBS4.