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Jeremy Barnes

The former owner of a Boulder liquor store accused of embezzling more than $100,000 from the business has taken a plea deal in his case and will serve probation and be required to pay restitution.

Jeremy Wayne Barnes, 49, pleaded guilty Thursday in Boulder District Court to one count of theft between $5,000 and $20,000, a Class 5 felony. In exchange, prosecutors dropped the original count of theft between $100,000 and $1 million, a Class 3 felony.

As part of the plea deal, Barnes will serve two years of probation and will pay restitution. The amount of restitution was determined in a confidential settlement in separate civil case, attorneys said.

“I’m just glad to have this resolved,” Barnes said at the hearing.

Boulder District Judge Norma Sierra said the plea deal was appropriate since the victims in the case just wanted a way of ensuring Barnes would pay off the restitution rather than serve a jail or prison sentence.

Sierra noted that she would be willing to terminate probation early if Barnes pays off the full amount of restitution before two years.

Sierra also credited everyone on the case with remaining “patient” with Barnes, as his case was delayed numerous times due to issues with finding an attorney and several trial settings.

According to an affidavit, in 2016 Barnes bought Red’s Liquor, 4481 Broadway, along with August Zimmerman. But in March 2017, Barnes approached Zimmerman’s mother, Catherine, about buying the store from him because he could not get a liquor license because of a past felony conviction.

Catherine Zimmerman agreed to buy the store from Barnes, who remained as an employee. Barnes fired the store’s accountant and said he would handle bill paying while they looked for a replacement.

Zimmerman told police that in May 2017, she began noticing bounced checks and insufficient funds, and Barnes initially blamed the lack of funds on other employees stealing.

But Zimmerman hired a forensic accountant who found missing credit card deposits that should have been deposited in the liquor store’s bank accounts were being deposited in Barnes’ account.

According to the affidavit, a total of $139,234.63 in missing credit card deposits were sent to Barnes’ account instead of the liquor store’s.

Catherine Zimmerman spoke at the hearing and said her son had died since the case was opened, and said the ongoing case had a negative impact on his life.