CWC theft case expands

SANDPOINT — A former Coldwater Creek employee accused of running up thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges on a company account is also accused of defrauding the Panhandle Alliance For Education.

A hearing to determine if there’s enough evidence to justify trying Susan Alene Hopkins, also known as Susan Scott, on two counts of grand theft was set for today, but is now on hold until March.

Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Goins and Hopkins’ defense counsel, Michael Palmer, moved jointly to continue the preliminary hearing so the two sides can try and resolve the matter through a plea agreement.

Judge Justin Julian granted the stipulated motion, which followed the filing of an amended complaint alleging Hopkins misappropriated more than $1,000 from PAFE, an organization which promotes education and community support for the Lake Pend Oreille School District.

Hopkins, a former assistant to a Coldwater Creek executive, was initially accused of making as much as $260,000 in unauthorized charges on a company credit card. The amended complaint involving the alleged fleecing of PAFE was filed on Jan. 12.

Coldwater Creek is an ardent supporter of PAFE and has hosted charity golf tournaments to raise funds for the group. Hopkins was not an employee of PAFE and held no position within the group.

“During the course and scope of Hopkins’ employment for Coldwater Creek, she used her position to steal from Panhandle Alliance,” Goins said on Tuesday. “We believe there was in excess of $15,000 that was taken from PAFE.”

Marcia Wilson, executive director of PAFE, said the organization is cooperating with authorities and had no comment on the matter.

“We’re just going to let the process do its work,” Wilson said of the criminal proceedings.

The thefts from Coldwater Creek occurred from 2006 to 2010, the complaint said. The thefts from PAFE allegedly took place between 2008 and 2010.

Hopkins, 53, is accused of using a Coldwater Creek expense account to purchase home electronics, a wedding ring, airfare, tickets to sporting events, and other items, according to court documents.

Hopkins is free on her own recognizance while the case is pending.

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