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Washington Undersheriff Sentenced to Six Months for Stealing Bail Money

Washington Undersheriff Sentenced to Six Months for Stealing Bail Money

Claims of substance abuse problems and poor physical health don’t often help criminal defendants trying to mitigate their prison sentences. Carole J. Lepiane, the former undersheriff for Walla Walla County, Washington, is apparently an exception.

Lepiane, 59, who used a walker to scoot her way into a U.S. District Court on January 10, 2013, was subsequently sentenced to just six months in federal prison for embezzling more than $67,000 in cash bail posted for prisoners at the county jail. As part of a plea deal she also agreed to pay $81,271.63 in restitution – to cover both the money she stole and a county audit conducted in her criminal investigation – and must serve a year on supervised release, including four months in a residential re-entry program.

In her pre-sentence remarks to federal judge Frederick Van Sickle, Lepiane apologized to everyone except the county taxpayers and jail prisoners from whom she stole.

“I’m very sorry for any actions I took that were detrimental to my co-workers, my family or my boss, Sheriff Mike Humphreys,” Lepiane said. “He did not deserve the stress, and I hope I can regain the trust of my [former] co-workers.”

Lepiane served as Walla Walla County undersheriff for 10 years until July 2009, and had been dealing with some kind of substance abuse problem involving either drugs or alcohol.

According to court records, on 50 separate occasions between February 2004 and June 2009 she embezzled cash bail that was posted for Walla Walla County prisoners. The money Lepiane stole was to be deposited into the Sheriff’s Office trust account.

Instead, Lepiane deposited the purloined funds into her personal bank account and reportedly used them to shop online. To conceal her crimes, she deposited into the trust account monthly checks to the Sheriff’s Office from Evercom, the company that manages and profits from the jail’s phone system that prisoners must use.

Judge Van Sickle told Lepiane that her actions put the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office in a negative light and hurt its credibility; he also said her crimes were “a breach of trust.” Ultimately, however, Van Sickle indicated he felt sorry for Lepiane, noting that she had mobility problems and was taking medication.

Lepiane was released from federal prison after serving her six-month sentence on December 23, 2013.

 

Sources: Tri-City Herald, www.fbi.gov

 

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