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Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Author/Byline: Clayton Woullard , Rocky Mountain News
Edition: Final
Section: News
Page: 15A
As Alberta Wittlich battled Alzheimer’s disease in the last years of her life, her family fought to keep a terrible secret – that her court-appointed conservator was swindling her estate.

But Monday in court, that same family saw Harry R. Krausman sent to prison for 12 years for stealing $1.9 million from Wittlich, who died in December 2003 at the age of 102.

Krausman, 67, who pleaded guilty in April to a charge of felony theft beyond $15,000, told Judge Herbert Stern III that he never planned to steal the money, as he had been accused, and believed Wittlich would have approved of his investments.

“There was opportunity for 20 years if I wanted to steal or embezzle her money. It would have been an easy thing,” Krausman said.

But Stern didn’t buy it.

“Your performance here today puts you at the top of the list for the poster boy for white-collar criminals,” Stern told Krausman.

“I don’t think you get it.”

Krausman, a certified public accountant and longtime friend of Wittlich, had been appointed by the court as the woman’s co-guardian and conservator of her estate in 1995. He used the money from her estate for loans to family members and friends, as well as $1.1 million to buy the now-defunct Lakewood Athletic Club.

Wittlich’s estate, which, at its highest was valued at an estimated $4 million, came from stocks in Bell Telephone Co. where Wittlich worked from the age of 17 until she retired at 61 in Denver.

In addition to the 12-year sentence, the maximum for the crime, Krausman was sentenced to five years’ mandatory parole and ordered to pay restitution, which will be determined by the court within 90 days.

Jo Ann Alford, Wittlich’s niece, spoke at the sentencing hearing, saying that Krausman betrayed her aunt’s trust and placed significant emotional and financial stress on Alford and her family.

“I have been serving time, not in prison, but in depression and stress which will not cease with this sentencing, but I hope will at least diminish,” said Alford, 73.


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