Mills Woman Avoids Conviction After Allegedly Stealing Over $7K
A woman who admitted in September to having stolen nearly $8,000 from her former employer will avoid prison time and will keep her record free of any felony charge, so long as she complies with the terms of her probation.
Natrona County District Court Judge Thomas Sullins on Tuesday granted 34-year-old Jennifer Pizarro first-offender status, meaning no conviction or judgement of guilt will be entered in the case.
Pizarro will serve one to five years of probation. She was also ordered to repay $7,916.03 to Diamond Suites, of Casper, where she was employed when she committed the theft. Sullins ordered Pizarro to complete a cognitive behavior class, as well.
First-offender treatment, provided for under Wyoming Statute 7-13-301, allows for a defendant who has not previously been convicted of a felony -- and who is not accused of certain crimes such as murder, sexual assault and domestic battery -- to have court proceedings deferred, with the consent of the state.
No conviction or judgement of guilt is entered, and the defendant is ordered to serve a term of probation. Should Pizarro successfully complete her probation, the proceedings would be dismissed.
"Her record would indicate, at least to me, your honor, that she should be afforded this opportunity," Assistant District Attorney Mike Schafer told Sullins at the beginning of Tuesday's sentencing hearing, adding that Pizarro has taken responsibility for her actions.
"I truly believe that she understands the gravity of her mistakes," public defender Rob Oldham said.
Charging papers say Pizarro use the Diamond Suites credit card machine to process fraudulent refunds, and put the refunded money into her own account.
Pizarro worked for Diamond Suites on-and-off beginning Jan. 11, 2016 through roughly the beginning of December 2016. The owner, Norita Trussell, reported the thefts to police Dec. 21, 2016.
An investigation revealed that PIzarro had tried to process nearly $17,500 in fraudulent refunds, and was successful in taking $7,916.03.
According to court documents, Pizarro told investigators that she ran into financial trouble in 2016. The fraudulent refunds were just to help her make ends meet at first, but the habit later got out of control.
Trussell did not attend Tuesday's hearing, nor did she submit a written victim impact statement, Schafer told Sullins, which factored into his decision to recommend first-offender treatment in the case.
"I think you'll do well on probation, because you sound committed to it," Sullins told Pizarro toward the end of the hearing. He emphasized the importance of taking advantage of the first-offender treatment and successfully completing probation.