Former Green River URA Director Pleads Not Guilty to Felony Theft

Former Green River URA Director Pleads Not Guilty to Felony Theft

Jennifer "Jennie" Melvin pleaded not guilty for two counts of felony theft from the Green River Urban Renewal Agency and Flaming Gorge Days accounts.

GREEN RIVER — Former Green River Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency (URA) Administrator Jennifer “Jennie” Nicole Melvin, 49, entered two not guilty pleas to two felony theft charges for allegedly stealing over $42,900 out of the Flaming Gorge Days (FGD) account, and over $34,500 from the Green River URA account.

Melvin appeared in the Third District Court of Judge Richard Lavery Thursday morning for an arraignment to two counts of felony theft, each carrying a possible prison sentence of 10 years and/or a fine of $10,000. If convicted, Melvin could serve a maximum of 20 years in prison and/or have to pay a $20,000 fine.

A trial date has been set for Jan. 8, 2024 at 9 a.m. Melvin’s bond was set at $75,000 cash or surety, which was previously posted.

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The first count of felony theft stems from a series of alleged “out of normal business” charges and withdrawals from the FGD account while Melvin was serving as the URA Administrator between June 2022 and May 2023.

According to the affidavit, part of Melvin’s duties for the URA and FGD was to be responsible for receiving donations and paying bills for the URA and FGD. Court documents state that beginning in June 2022, “drastic changes” in the amount of “out of normal business” charges to the FGD accounts allegedly started occurring. The FGD account’s balance was $48,391 at the end of 2021, and by the end of 2022, the balance was $4,487.

The affidavit states that the “out of normal business” charges allegedly continued in 2023, leading to the account being overdrawn multiple times in 2023 and leaving a balance of -$345.95 in May 2023.

The affidavit states that there were allegedly 61 ATM transactions totaling $21,927.75, and 216 debit card charges to the account totaling $21,014.80. Melvin allegedly made 34 ATM withdrawals from Wyoming Downs and several payments were made to restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and clothing stores. Additionally, Melvin allegedly had the only debit card issued for the FGD account. According to the affidavit, between the ATM withdrawals and the debit card purchases, a total of $42,942.55 was allegedly stolen out of the FGD account by Melvin between June 8, 2022 and May 21, 2023.

Melvin was also allegedly diverting money from the URA account to the FGD account.

The second count of felony theft allegedly involves the URA’s Downtown Dollars program, in which consumers could win vouchers provided by the URA to use at businesses in downtown Green River. This program was designed to help revitalize Green River businesses following the COVID-19 pandemic. Court documents state that if a business received a Downtown Dollar voucher payment, they could turn the voucher in to the URA and Melvin would reimburse the business using a check.

Melvin allegedly used this program to make fraudulent payments to one specific business by writing “Cash” on the memo line of the checks, whereas the rest of the checks had “Downtown Dollars” written on the memo lines. The affidavit states that detectives found that the “Cash” transactions that had no reference to Downtown Dollars allegedly “far exceeded” the amounts on the Downtown Dollars vouchers submitted by other businesses in downtown Green River.

According to the affidavit, between the debit card use and fraudulent checks, Melvin allegedly stole a total of $34,551.53 from the URA account between Jan. 14, 2021 and May 30, 2023.