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Washington State Undersheriff Gets 5 Months in Prison for Stealing $67K in Bail

Claims of compulsive tendencies and poor physical health don't often help criminal defendants trying to mitigate their prison sentences. Consider Carole Lepiane, the former undersheriff for Walla Walla County, Wash., the predictable exception.

Lepiane, 58, using a walker to scoot her way into a U.S. District Court on Jan. 10, 2013, was subsequently sentenced to just six months in a 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 that was conducted in her criminal investigation–and spend four months in a residential re-entry program.

In her pre-sentence remarks to Federal Judge Fred Van Sickle, Lepiane apologized to everyone except for the county taxpayers and jail prisoners from whom she stole.

"I'm very sorry for any actions I took that were detrimental to my co­workers, 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 was Walla Walla County undersheriff for 10 years until July 2009, and had been dealing with some kind of substance abuse issues, either drugs or alcohol.

According to court records, she embezzled cash bail on 50 separate occasions between February 2004 and June 2009 that was posted for Walla Walla County jail prisoners who had cases outside the county. The money Lepiane stole was to be deposited into the sheriff's office trust account and used for jail detainees.

Lepiane deposited the money she stole into her personal bank account and said she used it to shop for herself 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 phone system that prisoners are forced to use.

Van Sickle told Lepiane that her actions put the Walla Walla Count'.' Sheriff's Office in a negative light and hurt its credibility. He also said Lepiane's crimes were "a breach of trust." But ultimately, Van Sickle indicated that he felt sorry for Lepiane, noting that she has mobility problems and is taking medication.

Court records reveal that, according to Lepiane, she's been sober since at least 2009. But while in prison and in re-entry, she'll be required to complete substance abuse, alcohol and mental health evaluations.

Source: Tri-City Herald


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