CHEYENNE – A Cheyenne man is headed to prison for embezzling thousands of dollars from a local respiratory services business.
Troy Westover, 47, was sentenced Monday in Laramie County District Court to spend 15 to 30 months in prison for 10 counts of forgery.
For four counts of larceny, he will serve five years of probation, starting once that prison term is done. The probation will have an underlying prison term of four to six years.
“If I had to come up with a theme for this case, it would be abuse of trust,” District Judge Steven Sharpe said.
Westover’s victim echoed that sentiment in his victim impact statement.
“We treated Mr. Westover as we would our own children,” said Clark McInroy, owner of COPD Respiratory Services in Cheyenne.
McInroy told Sharpe that Westover regularly received bonuses, including $5,000 at Christmas time and, for the last two years of his employment, $10,000 Christmas time bonuses.
“How many small businesses would do that for an employee?” he asked.
McInroy said he and his wife “were entrusting these people (Westover and his wife) to run our business” so they could semi-retire.
Had Troy Westover just embezzled roughly $20,000 and owned up to his wrongdoing, McInroy wouldn’t have been so rattled, he told the judge.
But “what went on after – that was what really hurt,” he said.
A jury in December found Westover guilty of all crimes as charged – except one forgery count, which was dismissed because the victim named in that count had died.
He was charged in March 2015 based on information collected during a police investigation that started in October 2012.
Each count carried a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
According to court documents, Westover helped manage COPD from 2005 to 2012.
Between 2008 and 2012, he reportedly sold $16,900 worth of equipment belonging to COPD and had customers write checks to him so he could pocket the proceeds.
He also altered checks to make them out to himself and made checks out to himself that customers initially left blank.
After the jury found Westover guilty, Sharpe revoked his $30,000 bond and ordered him to await sentencing in jail.
The judge said Monday that he put Westover behind bars because he believed that probation was a possibility, and Westover should have to serve at least some time for his crimes.
Although Westover’s pre-sentence report suggested he receive a sentence of probation, and his attorney argued in favor of that punishment, Sharpe sent him to prison.
“This was not just an isolated mistake,” the judge said.
With more than four months already served in the Laramie County jail, Westover will be eligible for parole in less than a year.
His wife, Tina Westover, is expected to be sentenced soon for her role in the theft.
She was charged, also in March 2015, with a single count of felony theft for stealing COPD’s accreditation manual, which included all of the company’s Medicare licenses and cost $20,000 to have developed.
Police found the manual during a search of the Westovers’ business in February 2013.
The search also turned up five oxygen CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines that had been reported missing from COPD, and police matched the serial numbers of those machines to the serial numbers of machines sold to COPD in 2010.
On Tina Westover’s LinkedIn profile, she says she and her husband built COPD from 168 patients to about 2,000, making the company a $1.4 million business. She described her duties there as employee manager, accreditation compliance officer, customer service representative and Medicare compliance officer.
Nine days after Tina Westover, 47, reportedly went on a caught-on-camera after-hours raid of the business – stealing the manual, computer files, credit card receipts, vendor orders, patient files and more – she and her husband started a similar company here called Absolute Respiratory Care.
According to courtroom dialog, the company is on its way to being sold for around $300,000.
A plea agreement filed in Tina Westover’s case Feb. 1 called for her to plead no contest to the crime.
A no-contest plea has the same effect as a guilty plea, but frees the defendant from having to admit to the specific facts of the crime under oath. For that reason, it cannot be considered in civil court cases as an admission of guilt.
As part of the deal, the state agreed to recommend a probation sentence with no restitution.
Lead prosecutor Caitlin Young of the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office no longer has to honor that agreement, though.
Tina Westover appeared before Laramie County District Judge Thomas Campbell in an orange jumpsuit last Friday after spending the entirety of her case released on a $20,000 bond.
She admitted to violating her bond by leaving the county and state, being under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content of 0.097 and receiving a citation for possessing an open container of alcohol.
The petition to revoke Tina Westover’s bond was filed April 8, and she was arrested on a warrant three days later.
Since Tina Westover violated her bond, the state no longer has to follow the plea deal, and Young told Campbell in court Friday that she doesn’t intent to.
Tina Westover was released from jail later that day after posting an additional $5,000 in bond.
Court records indicate her pre-sentence investigation report was filed April 5. Defendants are required
to have at least 10 days to look over that document before being scheduled for sentencing.
During Troy Westover’s sentencing hearing Monday, he told Sharpe he stood before him not feeling good about himself and having to atone for his actions. He asked the judge to be lenient on him so he could return to his family, pick up the pieces of his life, move on and pay restitution.
In Troy Westover’s brief, soft-spoken statement, he thanked the jury for spending more than seven hours deliberating his case.
“I know it was hard,” he said. “I don’t fully agree with the verdict, but I think they put their heart into it.”
For what he might have done to hurt anyone, Troy Westover said, “I am very regretful.”
Young told Sharpe the apology should fall on deaf ears.
“From day one, there has been no acceptance of responsibility,” she said, adding that Troy Westover has been heard in recorded jail calls referring to Laramie County District Court as a “kangaroo court” and implicating the city of Cheyenne, its police chief, the lead investigator of the case, the Attorney General’s Office and others in a grand conspiracy to “railroad” him.
Young described Troy Westover’s actions as a systematic abuse of McInroy’s trust, and said he continues to blame his victim and everyone but himself for his actions.
She suggested he spend three to five years in prison for the forgery counts, all to be served at the same time, followed by five years of probation for the larceny counts, with an underlying prison term of three to five years.
Fighting back tears, McInroy told the judge he’s a very forgiving – and giving – person.
“I am a giving person, and I have been to them and I will continue to be to others,” he said.
Afterward, he returned to the audience and dabbed his eyes with a wadded up tissue passed to him by his wife.
Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Tina Westover had a blood alcohol content of 0.97, and that Caitlin Young of the Wyoming Attorney General's Office recommended Troy Westover serve three years in prison for five forgery counts.