Craig woman accused of embezzling would receive no jail time |

Craig woman accused of embezzling would receive no jail time

Plea agreement has judge unhappy

Zach Fridell
Lori Wagner

— The Craig woman accused of embezzling more than $30,000 from a Steamboat Springs realty company reached an agreement to keep her out of jail, but District Judge Shelly Hill said she’s not happy with the arrangement.

Lori Wagner, 27, was arrested July 23 and charged with theft of more than $30,000 from her employer, Axis West Realty. On Thursday, she pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted theft, a Class 4 felony.

During the arraignment hearing in district court, 14th Judicial District Deputy Attorney Rusty Prindle said the plea agreement would include two years of supervised probation, a deferred judgment after two years, 48 hours of community service and full restitution to be paid at the time of sentencing. Prindle said the restitution would total $35,000. There was no fine as part of the agreement.

“I’m not terribly crazy about this plea agreement, folks,” Judge Hill said. “I’ve had several embezzlements before me of late, and I’m not terribly crazy about the no jail sentence agreement.”

Hill said she would allow the agreement to go forward, pending a pre-sentencing report, but she may reject it later.

“If, in fact, I reject the plea agreement, I will certainly allow Ms. Wagner to revoke her plea,” Hill said. If Wagner did revoke her guilty plea, she would be allowed to enter a plea of not guilty and proceed to trial on the original charges of theft.

Prindle defended the agreement, saying that after speaking with the alleged victim in the case, he decided that an immediate restitution would be more helpful for the victim.

“Our main goal, since there’s a huge amount of alleged loss by the victim in the case, was to get as much of that as we could back to the victim,” he said.

Hill said she appreciated the reasoning but questioned the lack of jail time or fine.

“There’s simply no punitive part of this plea agreement; there’s no punishment whatsoever,” she said.

The standard sentencing for a Class 4 felony is 2 to 6 years in jail, with a fine of $2,000 to $500,000 and a mandatory parole of 3 years.

Wagner is charged with embezzling the money from her employer, while the employer was out of town, by shifting money between business accounts.

Hill scheduled the sentencing hearing for 1 p.m. Nov. 13, when she will announce her decision about whether to accept the plea.

Tim Nelson pleads not guilty, set to go to trial

The case of Tim Nelson, the Hayden man accused of growing marijuana at his home, is on track to proceed to a jury trial.

During a hearing Thursday, Nelson pleaded not guilty to the charges. Judge Hill scheduled a three-day, 12-juror trial to begin April 12, 2010. A motions hearing, described by Nelson’s attorney Sandy Horner as very important to how the case proceeds, will be held at 1 p.m. Dec. 29.

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