JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - The Jefferson County Democratic Party has stripped 66-year-old Estelle Carson of her 2012 award for Democrat of the Year following her conviction last week for stealing from a 71-year-old developmentally disabled, partially blind, wheelchair bound woman.
"Upon learning of Ms. Carson's conviction and in consultation with other party leaders, I revoked her award," wrote Chris Kennedy, Chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party. The statement was released to CBS4 Monday.
CBS4 reported last week that a Jefferson County jury convicted Carson of felony charges for identity theft and theft from an at-risk adult. Carson stole checks from the developmentally disabled woman so Carson could pay her cellphone, Internet and cable bills. The victim is on a fixed income of $596 per month, according to the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office. The victim also has cerebral palsy.
Authorities say Carson befriended the woman and then took control of her checkbook, stealing at least two checks to pay her own personal expenses.
Advocates for the developmentally disabled were outraged that the Jefferson County Democrats bestowed an award on Carson with a pending criminal case. They contacted the Jeffco Democrats Jan. 5, 2012, warning them that Carson was under criminal investigation and had already confessed to the crime, according to one advocate for the victim. But three days later the party went ahead and named Carson Democrat of the Year on Jan. 8, saying the criminal investigation and the award needed to be "compartmentalized."
In his statement Monday, Kennedy wrote, "Had these accusations been verifiable in January, obviously I would not have presented any award to Ms. Carson."
Advocates for the disabled called it "appalling" and "outrageous" the political party proceeded with the award knowing of the criminal investigation. Kennedy pointed out that Carson had not been convicted of anything at that time.
Kennedy now says Carson has been notified of the revocation of the award, which was given in recognition of Carson's volunteerism for the Jefferson County Democratic Party.
Carson's voicemail message says its full and can no longer accept messages, so she has not been reached for comment. She will be sentenced in December and faces a maximum penalty of nine years in prison, according to the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office.
- Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com
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