HOLBROOK — Convicted embezzler Margaret “Peggy” Rogers, 68, was sentenced to five years and four months in prison on Wednesday for conspiracy to commit theft and fraudulent schemes; theft “with an aggregate value in excess of $100,000” from Silver Creek Irrigation District; fraudulent schemes and artifices, and theft “with an aggregate value of $25,000” from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. She had pleaded guilty on Feb. 4.
A grand jury indicted Peggy Rogers on Sept. 11, 2018, for various theft and fraud charges. She had befriended the bookkeeper at Silver Creek and persuaded him to pilfer money for her over a period of time between August 2001 and 2016; the amount stolen added up to about $825,000.
During that time, she also applied for and received healthcare from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), securing the benefits by representing herself as a person with no income. AHCCCS says it was defrauded out of $38,223.
This case is noteworthy not only because of the amount of money involved, but the attorneys for each side. The State of Arizona was represented by the elected county attorney, Brad Carlyon; not a subordinate. The defense attorney was Mariclare Hannah, who is the public defender for Navajo County. Both attorneys attended Wednesday’s sentencing. In a separate civil law suit, Carlyon succeeded at clawing back about $200,000 for Silver Creek from now-deceased bookkeeper’s estate.
Peggy Rogers is a short, stout woman with shot grey hair. She wore a blouse with multi-colored patches and was helped into the courtroom by her attorney, Hannah. Rogers seemed unsteady, a little shaky, but addressed the judge in a strong and clear voice. Hannah told Judge Ralph Hatch that the case had “mitigating factors” in Rogers’ favor, like her serious health concerns for which she is now in treatment, and Rogers’ “profound remorse” for her actions. Hannah also said that Rogers has “gone back to painting,” and plans to sell her work to pay back the money that she stole. Carlyon pointed out to the judge that aggravating factors such as the amount of the theft, and that there are two public victims.
After reviewing the presentence report, Hatch found other aggravating factors such as the motive of pecuniary gain and the presence of an accomplice in the crime, the bookkeeper. He followed the stipulated sentence and placed Rogers on seven years of supervised probation once her prison term is served. She will be allowed to transfer the supervised probation to Gila County because Rogers plans to live in Globe once she gets out.
Other terms of probation will be repayment of approximately $867,000, having to abstain from alcohol, staying out of casinos or any establishment that offers gaming, paying various fees and costs and completing 200 hours of community service. Defense counsel Hannah questioned the last part about the 200 hours, telling Judge Hatch that there wasn’t an agreement about that. But Hatch stood firm, remarking that “she can pay back the community.”
Rogers’ husband Russell was also present in court. He was charged with six counts, similar to the charges Peggy faced. He was expected to plead guilty immediately after Peggy had been sentenced, but Dirk LeGate, Russell’s lawyer asked for more time because they had just that morning gotten the plea agreement. Carlyon had no objection, and his change of plea was re-set to April 9.
In the end, Rogers thanked the judge, who wished her luck. Rogers was led away by a burly, armed deputy to begin her incarceration. She turned around to her husband and mouthed “I love you,” twice, and then was escorted through a side door and was gone.