Former prosecutor clerk sentenced to 10 years or must repay $40,000

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A 38-year-old Cape Girardeau woman sentenced Monday in Jefferson County Circuit Court will either spend 10 years in prison or repay $40,000 she stole from the Cape Girardeau County prosecutor's office.

Monica Krauss, 1801 Grandview Drive, was arrested in May 2005 after working four years as a restitution clerk with the prosecuting attorney's office. Her duties included cashing checks from a Cape Girardeau County account set up to repay crime victims, according to court documents.

Krauss took several checks that were submitted by defendants to pay restitution to victims, police said. She then changed the names on some of them and converted them to her own use.

Krauss allegedly enlisted the help of two willing accomplices to help cash the checks. She also conned a 90-year-old woman into participating, the court papers say.

Monique Evans and Denise K. Johnson, both of Cape Girardeau, were arrested in connection with the crimes.

Both were sentenced Nov. 14 to four years supervised probation in New Madrid County circuit court for felony theft/stealing.

Originally, Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Barbour filed eight more charges of felony stealing against Krauss on a change of venue to Jefferson County.

Krauss, free on $10,000 bond since May 2005, was remanded into custody after Circuit Judge Timothy J. Patterson handed down her sentence Monday.

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said the sentence achieves two purposes: punishment and restitution.

Patterson sentenced Krauss to five years in prison for each of the two forgery charges and elected to retain a 120-day jurisdiction over her. If Krauss serves 120 days of her sentence without incident, Patterson can bring her back into his jurisdiction and place her on five years' probation.

As a condition of probation, Krauss is required to make restitution in the amount of $40,000 to the prosecuting attorney's office in monthly increments of $600, Swingle said.

Failure to repay will result in Krauss returning to prison to complete the 10-year sentence.

Swingle said the experience gave him a new appreciation for the embezzlement victims he represents. His focus previously was on putting embezzlers in prison for punishment while sending a message to other embezzlers that they will be punished. The downside was that financial restitution could not be made from prison, and the victims were never repaid.

"It still sends a message to embezzlers if you steal money you're going to jail," he said. "But there is a mechanism for restitution."

carel@semissourian.com

335-65611, extension 127

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