Judge adds jail time to sentence for former FM Derby Girls bookkeeper
FARGO - Roller derby skaters are accustomed to hard hits on the track. But the former FM Derby Girls bookkeeper who pleaded guilty Monday to stealing from the group found out the courtroom can be pretty rough, too.
A judge decided that a joint sentencing recommendation for Louise Jauss wasn't severe enough. It called for Jauss to pay $10,000 in restitution and receive credit for 10 days she had already served on electronic home monitoring.
"I don't think paying it back and spending 10 days in your own house is a sufficient penalty for this," Judge John Irby said in Cass County District Court.
Irby sentenced Jauss to an additional 25 days in jail and denied a recommended deferred imposition of sentence, meaning the felony theft conviction will remain on her permanent record. Jauss also must serve one year of supervised probation.
Donna Donley, who was the Derby Girls' president at the time of the theft and now serves as treasurer, said members were "extremely happy" with the sentence.
"We were happy that the judge viewed this as a very serious action on her part and that she needed to take responsibility for it," she said.
Jauss, who had pleaded not guilty in May, pleaded guilty Monday to Class C felony theft. In doing so, she admitted to stealing more than $500 from the Derby Girls from May 1, 2010, to Oct. 18, 2011, while serving as the group's treasurer.
The exact amount Jauss stole wasn't determined. The group initially accused her of taking about $21,000; a private auditor found about $13,000 in unauthorized transactions, mainly ATM withdrawals, court records show.
Jauss has reimbursed the group about $2,500 so far, including money she paid back even before she was charged in May, said her attorney, Jesse Lange.
Donley, who skates under the name "Rosie Bruzher," said the group is out a lot more money than Jauss will pay back.
"I would say it was at least double that, just a lot of cash that she had her hands on," Donley said. "That is hard to track and hard to prove."
Lange said Jauss was desperate for money when she took from the group, and she intended to pay it back but an infusion of cash fell through.
"It's a mistake that she was intending to rectify and wasn't able to com-pletely do that," he said.
When it became clear that Irby wasn't going to accept the joint recom-mendation, Lange asked the judge if he would at least wait to hear from Assistant State's Attorney Tanya Johnson Martinez, with whom Lange worked out the joint recommended sentence.
"It was very important that my client have a shot at getting this off her rec-ord," Lange said, calling it "aberrant behavior" for Jauss.
But Irby said he didn't want to delay the case any further.
"This is a large amount of money and affected a lot of people," he said.
Lange asked to withdraw the guilty plea so he could have a day or two to discuss things with Martinez, but Irby again said no.
"With an offense of this magnitude, there's got to be some real jail time," Irby said.
Judges customarily follow joint sentencing rec-ommendations, but they're not required to do so.
"So every once in a while something like this happens," Lange said after-ward. "We're obviously disappointed with the sentence. It's not what we were anticipating."
Lange said he would talk with the prosecutor before deciding whether to file a formal motion to withdraw Jauss' guilty plea. Jauss was given until 9 a.m. Monday to report to jail.
The drama spilled out of the courtroom when one of the Derby Girls stormed out after Lange and accused him of mouthing an expletive at her as he left the courtroom, which he denied doing.
After the hearing, group members exchanged hugs and high-fives.
"This is closure for us," Donley said, adding the extra jail time was "definitely a cherry on top for us."