Judge sentences Roaring Fork Valley woman to five years in state prison
The Aspen Times
A midvalley woman with a history of theft convictions — who was arrested in December while participating in a community corrections program designed to give her a new start in life — is now headed to state prison.
Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols sentenced Karen L. Iuele, 41, to five years in the custody of the state Department of Corrections.
She was accused of violating conditions of the five-year sentence she received in May to Garfield County Community Corrections, a program in Rifle intended to give the courts alternative-sentencing options for nonviolent offenders. Community-based sentences are designed to allow offenders to hold regular jobs while providing them with the tools and oversight they need to become responsible members of society.
In February, Iuele pleaded guilty to charges related to her October 2012 arrest by Aspen police, who alleged that she stole money from a customer of the Aspen insurance company where she worked.
After the May sentencing, she participated in the community corrections program until she was arrested on Dec. 11 in Glenwood Springs after allegedly stealing from her new employer, Office Depot, and admitting to the crime. Based on the new arrest, the state probation office and the Rifle community corrections facility kicked Iuele out of the special program.
In court Monday, public defender Sara Steele asked Nichols to delay the re-sentencing. She requested that Iuele remain in the Pitkin County Jail while awaiting court appearances related to her new theft case in Garfield County.
But prosecutor Andrea Bryan objected, saying Iuele had run out of second chances and had no right to a sentencing delay or any other special considerations.
“The people … understand why the defendant would much rather prefer to stay in the Pitkin County Jail as opposed to going to prison,” Bryan said. “But the case in Garfield County hasn’t even been filed yet. We would essentially be continuing this for an indefinite period of time while the defendant gets credit for time served in the Pitkin County Jail.”
Bryan described Iuele’s community corrections sentence in May as “a gift” from Nichols’ court. That sentence ran concurrently with another community corrections sentence Iuele received following a conviction in La Plata County.
Bryan said Iuele has engaged in criminal activity “pretty much for a majority of her entire adult life.”
In addition, the prosecutor said, Iuele “has learned absolutely nothing from the multitude of opportunities that this court and other courts” gave her.
“I don’t know if the Department of Corrections sentence is going to change her, but she can’t steal, at least not steal from the general public,” Bryan said.
Steele, however, countered that prison is not going to rehabilitate Iuele. She said Iuele was “close to making a breakthrough” and was generally doing well in the community corrections program.
Nichols told Ieule that many educated and nice women, like Iuele, pass through her courtroom.
“It’s perplexing why they end up in these positions,” Nichols said, adding, “You have three prior felonies for theft-type activities. It’s just too much.”
When given the opportunity to make a statement before the judge, Iuele declined.
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