Curt and Jill Taufen to get short jail stints for homebuilding scam
A Kremmling couple that pleaded guilty to theft after bilking a Summit County woman out of more than $300,000 in a construction scam received sentences entailing probation and jail time on Monday.
Curt Taufen will serve 60 days at the Summit County Jail and will be on probation for the next 10 years after he pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft.
His wife, Jill, will serve five days in jail and four years of probation after pleading guilty.
They’ll also have to pay back their victim back the money they stole in monthly installments. Each will face additional jail time if payments aren’t made.
“We’re very happy that we were able to hopefully get restitution for victims and catch a thief who’s been swindling people,” Fifth Judicial District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said.
The Taufens were arrested in Summit County in July 2010 for allegedly committing construction fraud through their business, Distinguished Builders. The victim, Kathy Rogg, reportedly paid the Taufens approximately $329,000 between December 2009 and March 2010 for the construction of a new house, but the work was never done on the property, and the couple spent the money on unrelated things.
Judge Karen Romeo said the couple’s behavior bordered on extortion as she handed down the sentence Monday.
“It was lie after lie after lie starting the day they met Kathy Rogg,” Deputy District Attorney Kristine Word said. “Every invoice they gave her was a lie.”
The Taufens asked the judge to be lenient at sentencing, saying their punishment would also punish their four children. All but one of the children were in the courtroom during the sentencing.
Curt Taufen received a harsher sentence than his wife because he seemed to have led the deception and fraudulent activity, Hurlbert said.
“He was really running this and in charge of this.,” Hurlbert said. “She knew about it and was spending the money, but he was the one telling the lies to the victims. He was more culpable than she was.”
Rogg said she was pleased with the sentence and the opportunity to recoup some of the money she lost.
“I’ve kind of had a smile on my face,” Rogg said after the sentencing. “In my mind, they stole a house. There are a lot of people in the world that don’t have any kind of house at all, so it’s not the worst thing that can happen to someone. It’s just being lied to and … (Curt Taufen’s) manipulative abilities were pretty darn good. But, ultimately, he didn’t get away with it.”
The Taufens have also pleaded guilty to felony theft charges in Routt County courts after allegedly scamming two victims there out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, Routt Chief Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle said.
A sentencing hearing in that case is set for Friday.
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