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Cortez house sitter faces felony fraud charges

Woman investigated in multiple crimes since April
Montezuma County Combined Courts

Cortez resident Jessica Sutch appeared on bond in Montezuma County Combined Courts on Wednesday, in the latest of four theft-related cases filed against her.

Sutch was arrested Oct. 25 on suspicion of forgery, after she had been charged with identity theft, unauthorized use of a financial device and forgery in three other cases.

Montezuma County Sheriff’s deputies responded to three reports of theft throughout the year from families who claimed money and other items had gone missing while Sutch was house-sitting for them, but most of the alleged victims did not press charges. Sutch was not arrested until Aug. 30, on a warrant for fraud.

On Wednesday, the filing of charges in the forgery case was scheduled for Nov. 8, but Sutch’s next court appearance will be Nov. 7, for plea hearings in the other three cases.

According to recent sheriff reports, Sutch spent about two days in the Montezuma County Detention Center after her Oct. 25 arrest, but she was out of custody on bond by Wednesday. Montezuma County Court Judge JenniLynn Lawrence ordered her to register for pretrial services before new charges are filed against her next week.

“With three pending felony cases and then picking up an additional bond ... I’m concerned that you may not be complying with the bond condition to commit no further offenses against the law,” Lawrence said.

Sutch said she hoped to be represented in the forgery case by attorney John Moran, who is representing her in the other three cases.

Deputies responded to this year’s first report of theft involving Sutch on April 26. A man claimed that between April 1 and April 22, while he and his wife were on vacation, $200 in cash had gone missing from their residence on County Road 11. According to the incident report, written by deputy Jared Farnsworth, Sutch was house-sitting for the couple while they were gone. She reportedly blamed the theft on a friend of hers who had visited the house one day, but deputies were unable to find valid contact information for the friend. The homeowners said they did not want to press charges for the theft, so the case was dropped.

On Sept. 19, deputies responded to another report of theft, this time at a home on County Road M. A couple claimed that several oxycodone and hydrocodone prescription pills and $365.50 in cash, including collectible coins, had gone missing from their house while they were out of town Sept. 13-17. Again, Sutch had been house-sitting during that time, according to the incident report by deputy John Haynes. She reportedly said she believed another friend who had visited the house was responsible for the theft, but deputies were unable to reach the friend with the contact information that Sutch provided. The homeowners who reported the incident also said they did not want to press charges.

The incident that led to Sutch’s first arrest was reported on July 28. Deputies had responded to a report of theft on County Road P, where a woman claimed she left her house and dog in Sutch’s care from June 29 to July 21, and when she returned, she found out someone had used a credit card she stored in a cabinet at home. According to the incident report, a total of $2,470 had been charged to the card at Walmart and several Cortez gas stations. During the following weeks, deputies reviewed security footage of the transactions at Walmart, and matched the images to Sutch. On Aug. 29, deputy Edward Oxley was granted a warrant for her arrest on charges of criminal possession of a financial device, identity theft and unauthorized use of a financial device. She was arrested the next day.

While three felony cases involving Sutch were in progress, she was arrested on suspicion of a fourth crime after Cortez police responded to a report of a forged check within the city limits. A woman claimed that Sutch, whom she had hired as a dog-walker, had taken a blank check from her filing cabinet and made it out to herself for $100, then cashed it at a Cortez bank on Oct. 24. According to the police report, Sutch told investigating officer Ryan Martin that she had forged the check, but didn’t know why.

“I asked Jessica if she needed the money, and she said she did not, that she had money of her own,” Martin said in the report.

Sutch’s plea hearings for the three cases already in progress will be held at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at Montezuma County Combined Courts. She has been charged with identity theft in all three cases, unauthorized use of a financial device in two, and forgery in the third. She will appear again at 2 p.m. Wednesday for the filing of charges in the new forgery case.

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