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Woman accused of taking money from firefighter calendar charity pleads guilty

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DENVER -- A woman accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from a charity she created to help kids at Children’s Hospital Colorado pleaded guilty in court Thursday.

Kirsten Hamling pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft as part of a plea deal. In exchange for her guilty plea, 22 other charges against her were dismissed. 

Hamling created the nonprofit group “Fired Up For Kids” in 2004 to raise money for the burn unit at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

The main fundraiser was selling calendars with pictures of firefighters. The charges against her allege in 2005 she started using the funds for personal expenses such as airline tickets, salon charges, and her children’s private school tuition.

The charges also included tax issues and providing false information.

Hamling sat quietly in the back corner of the courtroom as she waited for her turn before the judge. She was soft-spoken when entering the plea. If the agreement is accepted through the court process, Hamling will get probation and will have to pay back $250,412.22 thus making her take responsibility for the loss to Children’s.

The firefighter calendars are now produced by a new charity called Colorado Firefighter Calendar, Inc.

President Perry Palmer says, “I am pleased to learn that the restitution amount of $250K will benefit the Children's Hospital Colorado Foundation so this money can be used towards the Burn Center, education, training, family financial need, and other deserving programs. 

Children’s Hospital Colorado issued a statement saying, “We appreciate our new partnership with Colorado Firefighter Calendar and look forward to continuing the positive impact the calendar has made for the last eight years. The Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation's priority is to honor the selfless work by firefighters and volunteers associated with the firefighter calendar and to uphold the public trust in all philanthropic activities that support the work of Children’s Colorado."

Hamling is scheduled to appear in Denver District Court on November 16th to be sentenced.  Her sentence could include up to two years in jail depending on the judge’s decision.