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Letter: Prosecutors bound by state law

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I would like to thank the Hubbard County Attorney's Office, in particular Don Dearstyne, for doing a great job regarding a case where the Hubbard First Response were victims of a large theft.

From the very beginning when the charges were first filed, the county attorney's office was in contact with our group. Since we are such a large group and have meetings once per month, Mr. Dearstyne and a staff person offered to come to our meetings to explain what was happening and how the system works.

In the State of Minnesota, the crime of embezzlement holds a maximum penalty of $20,000 fine or 10 years in prison. Obviously, we wanted the person charged to go to prison. This crime financially wiped us out. We were surprised to discover that Minnesota has sentencing guidelines and that under these guidelines there is a grid that determines the sentence based on the defendant's criminal history and the severity level of the crime. Since this person that stole from us had no criminal history, the sentence for what she did would be no longer than one year and one day in prison. This is also a stayed sentence, according to the grid, which means the person gets some local jail time, with the rest of the sentence stayed while they're on probation. We also learned that if a defendant serves their whole sentence in jail, they can't be on probation. If they are not on probation, they don't have to pay us back.

Civilly, we could put a lien on anything of value that she owns. The process would cost us around $1,400 and the lean would only be good for a few years. Also, we would not be able to put a lien against her primary residence unless it was sold and the mortgage was paid off. The same applies to her primary means of transportation.

I just wanted to clear this up. Prosecutors have to follow the law as it is written by our legislators, and that is where the real problem rests. Remember that on Election Day.

I want to close by thanking the townships and the people who have stood behind us through this terrible time and those who have continued to support us through their generous donations to help us defray the loss. The people of Hubbard County can be assured that it will take more than one bad apple to stop us from showing up at your house when you need us the most.

Jason (Bucky) Johnson

Park Rapids

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