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Couple sent to jail for theft

Pair found guilty of stealing kitchen

November 8, 2012
By Jenny Lancour - staff writer ( , Daily Press

ESCANABA - A couple found guilty of stealing the kitchen from their foreclosed home were each sentenced to 45 days in jail Wednesday in Delta County Circuit Court.

A jury found Donald George Smith, 47, and his wife, Sandra Kay Smith, 47, of Round Lake, Ill., each guilty of embezzling mortgaged property $1,000 to $20,000 in September. They were on trial for removing appliances and custom-made cabinets from their foreclosed home on South 9th Street last summer.

Sandra Smith was the first to be sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Stephen Davis during Wednesday's hearing. In addition to the 45 days in jail, she was ordered to pay $198 in fines and costs. Restitution will be determined.

When offered an opportunity to make a statement to the court, she said she was concerned about being able to go back to work as soon as possible.

Her husband, Donald Smith, made no statement to the court when given the opportunity. Davis sentenced him to the same punishments - 45 days in jail, $198 in fines and costs, and restitution to be determined. Neither defendant will be placed on probation.

Derek Swajanen, the Smiths' attorney, asked the court for a lesser jail sentence than the 30 days recommended in the pre-sentence investigation report. He described the defendants as productive members of society with no criminal history who "basically got in over their heads" financially.

Assistant Prosecutor Jim Soderberg asked the court for harsher sentences of 90 days in jail for each, citing the activities of the defendants in removing the kitchen and the findings of the jury.

Sandra Smith had asked a granite retailer how to remove granite countertops and she also rented the U-Haul, Soderberg reminded the court Wednesday. Witness testimony during the trial described the Smiths moving the kitchen cabinets out of the house into a trailer at night after the home's windows were covered up.

Investigation into the case began in the summer of 2011 after bank officials saw the kitchen cabinets and appliances had been removed from the home. The property had been foreclosed and sold in a sheriff's sale earlier that year. The custom kitchen was valued at more than $30,000.

The Smiths were arrested in January this year, each on one count of embezzling mortgaged property valued at $1,000 to less than $20,000. The felony carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater.

A restitution hearing will be held to determine the amount of money owed to First Bank in the above criminal case. The Smiths are also the target of a civil suit filed by First Bank seeking more than $148,000 from the couple in connection with the kitchen embezzlement.



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