By Clair McFarland, General Assignment Reporter
Accused of embezzling about $255,500 from the Cheyenne Little Theatre, Carissa Dunn-Pollard, of Cheyenne, was charged federally last week with five counts of wire fraud.
She faces between zero and 100 years in prison, and up to $1.25 million in fines if convicted on all counts, and depending on the case circumstances, according to a Nov. 22 evidentiary affidavit penned by U.S. Secret Service Agent Russel Sparks.
The investigation began in May, when representatives of Cheyenne Little Players Inc. reported to law enforcement that they believed Dunn-Pollard had stolen at least $255,500 from the organization.
Dunn-Pollard was the theatre’s bookkeeper from May 2016 to May 2022. She was responsible for maintaining the theatre’s financial records, paying bills, managing payroll and creating W-2 forms, including her own, the affidavit states.
People from the nonprofit reported “unusual transfers” from the theatre’s bank accounts between Sept. 20, 2020, and May 2022, to an outside and “unknown” bank account.
Sparks wrote that the unknown bank account was a First Interstate Bank account in Cheyenne that belonged to Dunn-Pollard and her husband.
Between May 2019 and April 2022, there were 111 “payroll deposits” made from the theatre’s account into Dunn-Pollard’s totaling $278,550, the affidavit alleges.
The document says the deposits ranged from $300 to $6,000 each, and that there were occasions on which the account received “payroll deposits” multiple days in a row. For example, Sparks recounted a $1,000 payment on Jan. 5, 2021, another $1,000 payment the next day, and another the day after that.
In June, two $4,000 payments were made two days in a row, Sparks wrote.
Because the payments were routed through the Federal Reserve Bank, they crossed state lines, though their beginning and end destination were both in Cheyenne. Sparks indicated that this interstate travel gives the federal government jurisdiction to prosecute the crime.
On “several occasions” between January and May 2022, theatre management emailed Dunn-Pollard, requesting access to the theatre’s QuickBooks account, the complaint says.
“The theatre’s multiple email requests for access to their own QuickBooks account were met with delay tactics from Dunn-Pollard, ranging from out-of-state travel to inability to gain access to the theatre’s account,” Sparks wrote.
Dunn-Pollard is alleged to have emailed on April 29 that, “My master (Quick Books) file is corrupt … 3 of my personal accounts and yours have scrambled themselves together.”
In late May, Dunn-Pollard gave theatre management a username and password for its QuickBooks account, the affidavit says. But theatre officials reported to law enforcement that there was no data available from 2018 through May 2022.
Theatre representatives gave law enforcement several years of bank account statements and multiple financial reports. Sparks wrote that the theatre believes these documents indicate that Dunn-Pollard falsified total payroll amounts and balances “in an attempt to hide her illegal activities.”
For example, in a profit and loss report from July to December 2021, Dunn-Pollard reported total wages of $41,051.52 paid out to all theatre employees, the affidavit says.
“During this same time period,” Sparks wrote, “Dunn-Pollard made 28 … ‘payroll deposits’ into her bank account from the theatre’s bank account totaling $94,500.”
The theatre also gave Dunn-Pollard’s personnel files to law enforcement. Her W-2 statement from 2019 reports total wages of $20,670.
“However, my review of her … account reveals 54 … ‘payroll deposits’ from the theatre’s bank account totaling $53,819.86” that year, Sparks wrote.
Sparks indicated that the federal government is prosecuting the case because the money crossed state lines during the wire transfer.
Dunn-Pollard also has an apparent connection to Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove, though the federal affidavit does not mention the connection or attribute its prosecution to it.
Manlove will soon be replaced by DA-elect Sylvia Hackl.
Dunn-Pollard established a Go-Fund-Me fundraiser page on Manlove’s behalf while Manlove faced accusations by the Office of Bar Counsel and a handful of judges of mismanaging her office.
As of Wednesday, the page had raised $3,470 of its $20,000 goal.
Manlove did not immediately respond to a message requesting comment.