Woman skips hearing in school scam case

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MEEKER I Kristina Ann Lopez, 23, one of two females who allegedly misrepresented themselves as relatives of Meeker residents in December while claiming to be selling magazines to fund a volleyball team’s trip to Florida, failed to appear at her arraignment Feb. 20 at the Rio Blanco County Courthouse, prompting Judge John Neily to issue a warrant for her arrest.

As reported in the Herald Times on Jan. 22, at a Jan. 16 hearing, Public Defender Elise Myer asked the judge to release Lopez on a personal recognizance bond. Prior to this, she was being held in the Rio Blanco County Jail.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Barrett objected to such action on several grounds and argued that the original $7,500 bond should not be changed.
Following further argument, Myer asked for a reduction of bond to $3,500, which Neily granted, but with a warning to the defendant, “Don’t disappoint me, please.” Such a bond is an assurance that the defendant will return to all future court proceedings. The next hearing was scheduled for Feb. 6.
Judge Neily was, indeed, disappointed when Lopez failed to appear at her arraignment, a proceeding where the court officially reads the charges and the defendant enters a plea.
Substituting for Myer, Public Defender Sara Steele stated that she had not personally spoken with Lopez, but did know that “she called in this morning and spoke with some of the (court) clerks and said that her (car) engine blew up and so is unable to appear because she doesn’t have any other transportation.”
Prosecutor Barrett then addressed the court, pointing out that Lopez had already missed the court date on Feb. 6 because of “car issues,” at which time the court “gave her the benefit of the doubt.”
Barrett went on to state that because of several factors—“tenuous ties to the community, active warrants from other justifications, the fact that the court gave her a break one time around and that she was told by Ms. Myer that she had to be here (in court today)”—an arrest warrant should be issued.
Barrett further submitted that such an excuse is “too little, too late.” In such a situation, one does “everything humanly possible to be here,” he said.
Judge Neily, noting that he had, in fact, ordered that Lopez should be in court on this day, he said, “I’m tired of waiting around for this young lady. We’ve given her ample opportunity to get down here.”
He then issued the warrant for her arrest.