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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : local February 26, 2015

2/1/2013 10:02:00 PM
Prosecution rejects Townsend restitution offer
Judge orders former developer to submit financials
Elise Townsend
Elise Townsend
Joanna Dodder Nellans
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - Judge Celé Hancock has ordered Elise Townsend to produce detailed financial documents to help calculate her monthly restitution payments to eight felony theft victims.

Hancock ordered the action Friday after the Yavapai County Attorney's Office rejected a reduced one-time restitution payment offer from Townsend.

Once a prominent local construction company owner who ran for the Arizona Senate, Townsend pleaded guilty to felony theft in October 2010. Prosecutors said she took $180,000 out of one of her companies' bank accounts despite knowing it would cause numerous checks to subcontractors to bounce. Townsend then shut down the company.

Townsend has been seeking to reduce her $4,500-per-month payments on the $275,717 in restitution the court ordered her to pay back in 2010. So far she has paid back only about $8,000.

Hancock ordered Townsend to produce four years of bank statements, corporation activity, tax returns, housing and utility bills by March 3. She wants restitution payments to resume now that Townsend has a part-time job.

Hancock ordered Townsend to jail in June 2011 for not trying hard enough to make her payments. But Townsend was released in August 2012 after the Arizona Court of Appeals agreed with her that she tried to pay sufficient restitution but was unable to do so. Townsend then asked for reduced payments, but no agreement has been reached on a new number.

"This has been going on long enough," Hancock said Friday.

Although neither side revealed details of Townsend's restitution offer during Friday's hearing, Yavapai County Deputy Attorney George Rodriguez said the offer was "substantially less" than $275,717 and he has not received any Townsend offers on monthly restitution payments.

Rodriguez said he's bound to the restitution order issued by now-retired Judge William Kiger in 2010.

Defense attorney Jean-Jaques Cabou countered that it was a "substantial" offer and it's "absolutely appropriate" to discuss reducing the total restitution.

"It doesn't sound like we have a meeting of the minds," Hancock said. "I'd like to say I'm surprised, but I'm not."

Defense attorney John Sears noted that Hancock ruled in 2011 that Townsend's sister Alison Canfield had no standing in the case when she submitted a settlement offer through Sears.

Canfield said in 2011 that she would loan Townsend the money she owes the businesses, but only if the judge drops the restitution payment total to $76,994, a debt amount that Canfield calculated was more appropriate.

Defense attorneys wrote to the court in a status report last week that the new offer also comes from Townsend's family.

"The calculation of this amount was based on an exhaustive analysis of the facts and law underlying the restitution obligation in this matter," wrote her attorneys from the Perkins Coie law firm in Phoenix. "Ms. Townsend, as she always has, desires for the victims with legitimate restitution claims to be made whole."

The report said Townsend is making $12 per hour in her part-time job that adds up to about $800 per month. She listed her job as "associate" at Deseret Industries, a Tucson nonprofit vocational rehabilitation facility and thrift store run by the LDS Church.

Her family is in "dire financial circumstances" with a shortfall of about $400 per month in its ability to cover basic expenses, the status report said.

"Mrs. Townsend doesn't have any money of her own," Cabou said Friday. "Her ability to pay is nominal if existent at all."

The two sides can continue to negotiate if they want, but in the meantime monthly payments need to be set, Hancock said.

The court received an update Thursday and Townsend has submitted approximately $270 to her probation officer since getting a job Nov. 24, Hancock said.

Sears said the prosecutors and public shouldn't get to see Townsend's financial documents. Hancock told Rodriguez to file a request if he disagrees.

Rodriguez said Townsend's husband should have to provide all his financial documents for the judge's review, too, since Arizona is a community property state.

Cabou assured the judge that Townsend will provide all the documents related to her financial interests.

"One of the problems in this case is that there's so much distrust on both sides," Hancock observed. "This is an emotional case."

Related Stories:
• Townsend offers restitution settlement proposal
• Sides still can't agree on Townsend restitution payments
• Judge gives Townsend more time to find a job
• Elise Townsend out of prison, wants to reduce victim restitution payments

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Article comment by: GRUNDO Sez ..... Help! She's fadeing too fast....

Dear daily Courier , please bring an Eliose Townsend story, even a rehash, back up to the blog top! We so miss hurling brickbats at the woman we love to hate. Besides it may create some smoke and mirrors and let Skoog slip back in.

Posted: Monday, February 04, 2013
Article comment by: Angel Moroni

To Stacey B....
Are you a relative of Elise and Jim Townsend? Obviously, you're not one of her many victims! There's a big different between a 'mistake' and a deliberate dishonest act! Also, I seriously doubt that Elise is 'in need' as you say! You seem to forget that Elise has a husband who had been supporting their family while Elise was in the slammer. But then again, it must be extremely difficult for the once very wealthy Townsends to live like average regular people now - like the numerous 'average' people who lost a lot of their hard-earned savings to Elise's greed. Also, as many bloggers have indicated, Elise probably has a lot of money hidden and is just waiting for the courts to absolve her of making restitution. As far as 'pushing Elise to the brink' goes, it will never happen because the woman simply doesn't care. I doubt that she has a conscience. She's out to save her own hide, that's all. Finally, you seem to assume that Elise Townsend actually reads these blogs!

Posted: Monday, February 04, 2013
Article comment by: GRUNDO and others, need answers Maybe if YOU were a Victim!

To Stacey B : How would you feel if it was your elderly mother that was conned out of her savings? or Yourself? Justice is NOT being served in this case. There are too many avenues of escape this FELON has taken advantage of and she has had to have aid and assistance from others! They used to call it the Mafia what label is apt I am not sure but it sure stinks to high heaven. Then thers the matter of Victor Hambrick her "part time " employee

Posted: Monday, February 04, 2013
Article comment by: AZ KAT

To Stacy B ... You must be one of the very very few people that was not screwed over by this woman. So quit your whining. No one will shed a tear for her except her. She needs to go find another job since the one she has is only part time. Maybe she should find 2 more jobs. Elise needs to re-direct all the energy and money she is spending to get out of the payments and work as many hours and jobs as it takes. So deal with it.

Posted: Monday, February 04, 2013
Article comment by: Dis gusted!

Dis we forget all of the under the table dealings and shoddy deals made with the old county assessor Victor Hambrick? Sneaky sneaky lady. As one who assisted her with her purchases in one local western wear store, this lady always spent a few thousand in cash just for the fun of it. I dont believe for a second that she is as broke as she claims. Lock her up!

Posted: Sunday, February 03, 2013
Article comment by: GRUNDO Folks demand a hearing! You pay their salaries

As I Understand it a lot of folks who were bilked /robbed of money by Townsend did not even get their day in court. It appears the County Prosecutors don't press forward on all the cases. Why ? I ask. A person grabs a six pack of beer from a gas station, and its headlines and jail time. If a crime has been committed it is only right to proceed against the defendant. I don't think the prosecutors ( who we pay) have a right to pick and chose complaints ! And as was brought up by another writer, it seems the L.D.S. church was a receiver of stolen funds via Townsend and her crime wave. Shouldn't they have to return the money to victims or does preaching only go so far?

Posted: Sunday, February 03, 2013
Article comment by: Are You Kidding!

Are You Kidding. Make her Pay every day of her life. She stole money from a lot of hard working people and non of them will get their money back. Let her get off, with lower payment, then that sets a bad example.

Posted: Sunday, February 03, 2013
Article comment by: in the boonies

Guys and girls, you don't go back far enough. Elise used to work for another company as the qualifying party and if if you wanted to be a sub contractor, there was a price to pay.

Every contractor in Yavapai County knew she was building substandard houses. Did the registar of contractors know?????

She is a scam artist, has been since I met her in 1994 and her husband was not much better. We did not have illigal aliens work in drywall before Elise and Townsend Drywall.

So her family has a shortfall, where is the father of these kids?????

You people have some fun with this and dig a little deeper.

Yes, I did not pay pribes and lost a good contract, went out my own own and started building excellent homes with no problem so ever.

Posted: Sunday, February 03, 2013
Article comment by: pauline lovato

Well I am not hearing much about all the people and companies she simply did not pay. They have no hope of ever being made whole.As for the hair , it hides a very large dose of denial. I fo not think she is one bit sorry. I have not read of any true remorse from her. I doubt her family even knows the truth either.Slap her in jail. Lets be done with it !

Posted: Sunday, February 03, 2013
Article comment by: Rick Lovato

My company wired several homes for Townsend Construction. At first , invoices were paid in a timely manner. After her short lived political career and some restaurant investments , pay got a lot slower and we chose to not do anymore work for Townsend Construction. Too bad her super-sized ego ruined a good business. Throw her in jail.

Posted: Sunday, February 03, 2013
Article comment by: to Stacey B

Elise did not just make a mistake. She spent years if not her entire life duping others and taking advantage of everyone she dealt with. She has left a trail of victims in her wake that includes friends, co-workers, church goers, employees etc.
She is doing nothing different today evidenced by her still trying her best to take advantage of the court and those she is ordered to repay. I have no sympathy at all and trying to classify it as one mistake does a disservice to the human race. We all deserve forgiveness for one mistake now and then.

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2013
Article comment by: One Eyed Jack

Has anyone searched in her hair for the money? You know she has it stashed away and is just waiting for her opportunity.

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Lyle

I met Townsend once because she wanted a bid for her construction company. I didn't get a good feeling giving her a bid so I declined and left. I'm glad I declined and saved from having to go thru what all the other contractors went through. She belongs in jail now not later!

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2013
Article comment by: Chain Gang

Let her spend a couple years with Sheriff Joe in Tent City. Working on a chain gang for free is a fitting punishment for someone who made her subs work for free.

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2013
Article comment by: GRUNDO She Appears to be Protected. Federal help Needed

Now what kind of records will Elise disclose? Legimate ones or "cooked books" I certainly hope there will be Federal IRS assistance in doing some forensic accounting on her evil doings. Again! what about all the other victims? Are they just to be forgotten? Is there a cartel at work reaching high up in the Arizona political world that protects her? I think the courts and the public prosecutor should entertain any complaints, with merit, against her up until the seven year limitation of the crime. I have written this a number of times to the Daily Courier and this is never published or responded to. Why is this? Is the Newspaper in the tank for her too?
Thank You

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2013
Article comment by: Not a Fan

She has money for lawyers in Prescott and Phoenix.
She has money for a lump sum restitution but wants a discount.
She is $400 a month short- so what bills is she not paying?
No right to see her finances?
Life is tough for the privileged.
Judge, I got news for you. She aint never gonna pay. Either let her go or do the right thing and send her to prison. Then she'll pay the money she obviously has on lawyers instead of doing the right thing and paying her victims back, get the appeals court to release her, and she'll get out and not pay restitution again. At least you can deal out what justice you can.

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2013
Article comment by: stacey B

Excuse me lynch mob! Gawd you cannot get blood out of a non bleeding donor. Okay she messed up.
All of this press and the remarks need to stop.
This does not help anyone or anything. God forbid any of you ever are in need.People make mistakes period!! You people could push a person to the brink then those owed will still be owed just remember that!!

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2013
Article comment by: john adams

what happened to her money [ gave it to the rest of the family] how much is she paying the lawyers[ we know there not cheap] this woman can not even say she is sorry for what she di. if i owed that money you can bet i be made to pay

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2013
Article comment by: Angel Moroni

Elise has a stash of money somewhere! Once she's given absolution by the courts and is off the hook to pay anything back, she'll skip the country for a few years, get her hidden cash, and then come back here after the dust has settled and live the good life again.
There is no way that she could have squandered all of the money she made during the building boon. She rarely paid her subcontractors, and she defaulted on her motgages and personal loans.
I just hope the courts see through her!

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Steele

Townsend was found guilty and no appeal was upheld. Jail time as ordered or full restitution and lifetime out of the contractor business along with lifetime probation required. If you do the crime you spend the time. The end.

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2013
Article comment by: Two Justices?

By all means, Ms. Townsend should disclose her financials so the judge can set restitution. I'd guess Ms. Townsend is telling the truth that she doesn't have any money. Plenty of contractors that were high on the hog are broke now. And those contractors are not convicted criminals, are still able to get jobs, and all of that. Ms. Townsend will probably never be able to pay off what amounts to a house mortgage in her lifetime.

But that's true for a lot of criminals. Even reformed ones. Be interesting if anyone knew the percentage of cases in which complete restitution is made? According to the AZ Attorney General's site, "The majority of defendants who are ordered to pay restitution never pay the total amount."

I know that Ms. Townsend caused unmeasurable suffering. Other contractors going belly up have caused untold suffering as well. Lots of businesses going belly up have caused suffering. According to the paper, Ms. Townsend's crime was that she caused that suffering to others while taking what was left of the money for her own use in a futile attempt to protect herself. Her debts exceeded the amount that she took criminally, and it looks like most of that suffering would have happened even if she hadn't taken the money.

Now her family is trying to help her out. Family gives to family. I've been a giver and a receiver. Bet most of you have too. But just because her family is helping her out with lawyers and trying to settle the restitution so it doesn't hang over her head until the ends of time doesn't mean that Ms. Townsend has money. And it certainly doesn't mean that Ms. Townsend should be treated differently than most other criminals who never pay the resitution. That's the kind of "two-justices" that undermine our entire country.

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2013
Article comment by: Carl Imparel

This has gone on long enough, throw her in prison

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2013
Article comment by: Irving Rheingold

"Nice Hair"............................LOL

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2013
Article comment by: Glen Brown

They should at least shave that head as part of the punishment.

Let me at them clippers and I'll do it.

Posted: Saturday, February 02, 2013
Article comment by: Well Let's See !

Maybe Judge Hancock could order Townsend to dig a little deeper in her yard and get the full amount owed to the victims, or go back to jail. CeLe, Great work on the bench !

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