Stock sentenced to time served, probation |

Stock sentenced to time served, probation

by Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

Susan Stock, a former East Grand Middle School music teacher, was convicted of theft charges in a Hot Sulphur Springs courtroom Friday for stealing and pawning her students’ musical instruments.

Facing the charges in the 14th Judicial District Court, Stock was found guilty of theft $500-$15,000, a Class 4 felony. She also was found guilty of two misdemeanor charges of theft $100-$500.

In handing down the conviction, which was the result of a plea agreement, Judge Mary Hoak did not impose any additional jail time, saying Stock’s 166 days of incarceration since her arrest May 16 were “adequate.”

As a result, Stock was remanded to the Sheriff’s Office to be released from custody Friday afternoon.

The judge also ordered Stock pay to restitution for the stolen musical instruments with the total amount to be determined within 90 days.

In addition, Hoak ordered that Stock pay $1,137 in fines and court costs, and perform 120 hours of useful public service. She is not to have any contact with any of the victims with the exception of writing letters of apology, which have to be completed by March 25 and must first be submitted to her probation officer.

Stock was also placed on two years of supervised probation. The judge also ordered her to continue a course of mental health treatment and medication, which she described as “crucial” to Stock’s rehabilitation.

Stock’s mental health and medication treatments featured as a major part of the defense’s case presented at Friday’s court hearing.

Speaking on Stock’s behalf, Dr. Susan Whitefeather, a psychologist with Colorado West Mental Health in Granby, explained that Stock’s lifelong bipolar condition had been under control for years through medication. Without the proper medication, untreated bipolar disorders can result in a wide range of symptoms such as rapid mood swings, depression, manic or paranoid behavior, and “an inability to reason clearly.”

Whitefeather explained that about 2-1/2 years ago, Stock underwent gastric bypass surgery to control a weight problem and began failing to take her bipolar medication. Whitefeather said the lack of proper medication resulted in a “downward spiral” in Stock’s mental condition.

Also speaking before the Judge Hoak on Stock’s behalf was Principal Nancy Karas of East Grand Middle School. She described Stock as an “exceptional teacher” during the first three years of the six years she worked as a music teacher for the middle and high schools, but began to “deteriorate” in performance about the time of her gastric bypass surgery.

Afterwards, she “took a dive” emotionally, “sitting and crying in the classroom” and “not able to manage,” Karas said.

Standing before the judge with her attorney Trevor McFee at her side, Stock read a prepared statement with her voice breaking a times from emotion. She said she was not “looking for sympathy or making excuses,” but thought her bipolar condition was an important factor in her case.

Stock admitted that following surgery she failed to take the proper medication. She acquired “excessive debt” and in her mental state began rationalizing that she was only “borrowing” her students instruments and not really stealing them when she pawned them in Denver.

“But I obviously was,” she said.

Stock said her arrest and jailing was the “best thing to happen” to her because she got back on her medication and began “thinking clearly” again, and felt ashamed and remorseful for the thefts she had committed.

In accepting the conviction, Stock said she took “full responsibility” and would make “full restitution” for the thefts. She apologized to everyone affected by her deeds, saying “I betrayed my trust.”

Speaking for the prosecution, Chief Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham said she did not dispute Stock’s bipolar disorder, but it could not be used as “an excuse” because others suffering from that mental disorder have not turned to theft. She said Stock “betrayed a position of trust” by stealing from her students when she “saw an opportunity and did it over several months.”

In handing down the felony conviction, Judge Hoak told Stock she was being given a “hard hit the first time around” for someone who had no previous criminal record.

However, she had “violated trust” by her actions because teachers are “role models” for children who must “set the example.”

While not accepting her bipolar disorder as an excuse, Hoak stressed to Stock the importance that she “never ever be unmedicated” and be constantly aware for her mental state. While telling her it “might take awhile for people to realize you’ve changed,” the judge said Stock should “move on with her life,” demonstrating “responsibility and dignity.”

In the case brought against her, Stock reportedly stole more than two dozen musical instruments belonging to the school district, the East Grand Music Foundation, individual students and a rental company. The estimated value of the instruments is about $30,000.

Stock was originally arrested May 16 at the end of the school day on a warrant from Arapahoe County on charges of theft related to a shoplifting incident. A search of her vehicle and residence by the Granby Police turned up evidence of musical instruments that were reported lost or stolen by East Grand Middle School students.

An investigation led by Sgt. Jim Kraker of the Granby Police discovered the musical instruments had been sold to Denver-area pawn shops. A few of the stolen instruments have been recovered.

While the Grand County case is now over, Stock is still facing the original shoplifting charges. She is ordered to appear in the Arapahoe County Court later this month.

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