DENVER (CBS4) - A man charged with pocketing thousands of dollars he collected for a cancer patient's treatment pleaded guilty to felony theft Thursday in Denver District Court.
Scott Kesterson, 52, accepted a plea agreement and received a two-year deferred sentence that required him to repay more than $19,000 in stolen funds and extradition costs.
For Jorge de la Torre and his children, losing wife and mother Kelly de la Torre to cancer back in Nov. 2013 was hard enough.
"It's still very tough to think about," de la Torre said, choking back emotion.
Then, to be cheated out of more than $12,000 in donations collected for her lymphoma treatment by a man who the family thought was a friend "is still mind-boggling to me," he told CBS4's Melissa Garcia.
Kesterson, who had originally hired Kelly as his attorney to help him start up his own non-profit, Spatial Terra Foundation out of Portland Oregon, decided to also start a fund for Kelly in Oct. 2013, after her cancer diagnosis.
Per their agreement, Kesterson was supposed to give the money raised to Kelly's family in the event of her death, which sadly, became a reality about a month after the fundraising efforts began.
When Jorge contacted Kesterson at the beginning of 2014 to collect the money owed, Kesterson initially made excuses and then eventually stopped returning his calls, authorities said.
"To just disappear, then I felt well this has gone from making a mistake which we all do to something criminal," Jorge said.
According to prosecutors, Kesterson pocketed the money and used it for his own business and personal expenses.
"I felt so ashamed, because people who loved me took time to give to (the fund). So I felt like I had betrayed their trust. You know, I didn't do it, but I felt horrible," Jorge said.
As part of Kesterson's plea deal, he was ordered to pay the de la Torre family all $12,300 he stole from them plus interest.
The agreement also required Kesterson to pay back the $3,831 it cost to extradite him to Colorado from Montana, where authorities had tracked him down and arrested him.
CBS4's attempts to contact Kesterson Thursday were not immediately answered.
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