Lakewood resident Joy Belle Phelan has been sentenced to eight years in prison for embezzling $327,000 from businesses in Wheat Ridge and Lakewood from 2004 through 2011.
During the years 2004 through 2008, Phelan stole $315,000 from the medical offices of Sheldon Goldberg M.D.P.C., in Wheat Ridge, through an accounting company she created called Magical Bookkeeping Solutions, under the name of Joy Bender.
According to the Wheat Ridge affidavit for Phelan, Goldberg hired Phelan as an accountant in 2004 to help with the financial side of the business while he focused on the medical side.
In 2008 he stopped using Phelan and transferred the accounting work to his office manager, who was unable to balance the books.
It was during the attempts to balance the business’ books that it was discovered that Phelan had been diverting money to her company and to herself under three different names. Phelan worked a similar scam in Lakewood, using her accounting company to divert funds from Business Honoring Spirituality, a networking group and nonprofit volunteer organization.
“From November of 2009 through July of 2011 she transferred checks and made ATM withdrawls, none of which were approved,” said Steve Davis, public information officer for the Lakewood Police. “It got to the point where the business owner went to the bank and started going through the records.”
It was discovered that a little more than $12,000 had been embezzled from the Business Honoring Spirituality, most of it through checks that were not authorized, made out to Phelan’s business or herself.
In October 2011 Phelan was finally arrested and charged in two felony cases, one with the medical office in Wheat Ridge as the victim, the other with Business Honoring Spirituality as the victim.
“She was arrested and charged in both, and pleaded guilty to both,” said Pam Russell, public information officer for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office. “Thanks to both Wheat Ridge and Lakewood doing their own investigations, she received two felony convictions.”
Davis said that many people recently have been trying to take advantage of businesses, with his department getting case after case.
“I think the sentence sends a very strong message that this will not be tolerated,” Davis said. “And Ms. Phelan will have a lot of time to think about this fact.”
Russell said the District Attorney’s Office hopes the sentence will send a message to the community.
A restitution hearing will be scheduled.