Only one crime victim spoke at the Wednesday afternoon sentencing of Rana Klingner, the former Boise County deputy clerk whom an Ada County jury found guilty of stealing more than $36,000. But county officials made sure the court understood that there were thousands of victims.
County Clerk Mary Prisco, Klingner’s former boss and close friend, spoke about the pain of betrayal and the hit to her own reputation during a failed recall effort sparked by the charges against Klingner and a second case of missing funds from her office. Some held Prisco responsible for Klingner’s actions.
“I simply could not believe that my trusted friend would steal repeatedly from Boise County,” Prisco said in court Wednesday. She recalled being tearful when she went to fire Klingner on advice of counsel.
After a six-day trial in February, the jury found Klingner guilty of two counts of felony grand theft. The trial was held in Ada County due to concerns about accessibility during winter weather and seating an impartial jury.
Wednesday, Senior Judge Michael McLaughlin sent Klingner to jail for 120 days, followed by five years of felony probation. If that probation doesn’t work out, Klingner could have to serve two to five years in prison.
Work release will be an option for the last 90 days of jail time, McLaughlin said.
Klingner was handcuffed and taken to the Ada County Jail at the end of the sentencing — the second former Boise County official to be sent to jail in the past two months. Former prosecutor Jolene Maloney is now serving a four-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to felony DUI.
Maloney, who had four prior misdemeanor convictions, was granted a withheld judgment — an opportunity to petition the court to have her newest conviction dismissed if she successfully completes seven years of probation. Klingner, who had no prior criminal history, requested a withheld judgment but was denied.
Along with Prisco’s testimony, the three-member Boise County Commission sent the court a written victim impact statement on the effects of the crime. The board noted Klingner stole from the poorest in the 7,000-resident county when she took money from the Indigent Services Fund, and they lamented the “very real drain” on resources to investigate the crime and prepare for trial.
This was no victimless crime, the commissioners said, and the damage was far more than just financial. They spoke of grief, heartache, frustration, stress, flagging morale and sullied reputations.
“Distrust in one’s government has a cascading effect,” they said in the letter. “The effects of that distrust are directly felt by the people in elected positions such as ours. We understand these are lofty and perhaps even idealistic concerns, but they are real. This methodical and long-lasting theft did real harm to the fabric of our government and called into question our and every government employee’s ability to execute our responsibilities.”
Boise County prosecutors said Klingner did not take responsibility or show any remorse for the crime.
“This isn’t just a mistake,” Deputy Prosecutor Spencer Lay told Senior Judge Michael McLaughlin. “This is 18 months of theft.”
In a long and teary statement, Klingner described the whole experience as “a painful but enlightening introduction to the criminal justice system.”
She spoke about first learning she would be charged on Facebook, and how her family quickly became outcasts in the small, rural community. She said her son was harassed at school, and they ended up relocating to Boise after finding shotgun shells on their porch. She said she had been unable to join her husband in North Dakota because of the case, and she lost a job she loved at an airline because of it. She’s now working at her brother’s business, and she talked at length about wanting to help others who’ve been through similar situations get back on their feet.
McLaughlin said Klingner’s motivation to steal appeared to be out-of-control personal spending. He explained why he was sending her straight to jail.
“I want you to have that reinforcement that you put your family at risk when you did this,” McLaughlin said.
Klingner was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $245 in court fees. She also owes $36,376.37 in restitution.
Her brother told McLaughlin that he would cover her restitution costs within 30 days. The judge approved that, but said Klingner must pay her brother back in installments of at least $300 a month to avoid her punishment being shifted to a family member.
Finally, the judge ordered Klingner to take a personal financial management class, noting he was aware of the benefits because “my wife made me take one.”