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Kennedy, Minn., woman sentenced in theft from friends

A Kennedy, Minn., woman charged with stealing more than $44,000 from her friend and employer will serve 30 days in jail.

Miranda Sue Gustafson, 34, made an initial restitution payment of $30,000 before being sentenced for theft Tuesday in state District Court in Hallock, Minn., according to state's attorney Roger Malm.

Gustafson stole from her longtime friend Leanne Truedson, Leanne's husband Todd Truedson, and their business Todd's Electric, where Gustafson was employed as a book keeper.

Friends betrayed

She was originally charged with nine felony counts in Kittson County, including three counts of theft, four counts of credit card fraud and two counts of theft by swindle.

Some of the counts were for using a company credit card without authority, using Todd Truedson's personal credit card and others involved taking cash from the Truedson's residence. They were rolled into one charge that Gustafson pleaded guilty to as part of her plea bargain.

Leanne Truedson said she had been friends with Gustafson for 15 years before inviting her to work at Todd's Electric.

Under the terms of her sentence, Gustafson will have the remainder of her 12-month sentence stayed for 10 years, during which she will be on supervised probation.

In North Dakota, Gustafson has already pleaded guilty to a felony count of theft in Grand Forks County and was ordered to pay $13,449.69 in restitution.

In Grand Forks, Gustafson and Leanne Truedson would make shopping trips, during which Gustafson would use the Todd's Electric credit card to make purchases.

In Pembina County, she is also facing a theft charge and is scheduled to appear in court May 29. It's a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Malm said getting the initial bulk of restitution was important to the victims, who Malm said was "devastated" by the betrayal from their friend. "We tried to make sure we could get recovery of those funds."