A woman accused of stealing $128,000 from victims while in control of their funds was sentenced to jail and probation on Monday.
Melissa Ann Niederhauser, 40, was sentenced to 45 days in jail, a term of probation and a minimum of $500 per month payments toward restitution during her appearance in 1st District Court.
“That is a lot of money,” Judge Brandon Maynard said. “That is a lot of money that you took.”
Prior to sentencing, defense attorney Erin Byington asked the court to suspend the term in jail, citing her client’s “rather severe” depression and concerns on how incarceration would affect Niederhauser. Byington told the court her client was taking appropriate steps to deal with an impulsive spending disorder, that she was very contrite and that “no punishment the state could give” could punish her more than she had “punished herself.”
Cache County prosecutor Jacob Gordon said while he believed Niederhauser would not reoffend, the amount of money taken in the case was troublesome.
“Everyone has good reasons to not be in jail,” Gordon told the court. “The betrayal of trust is monumental.”
Niederhauser initially declined to address the court at the time of sentencing but later told the court she was hoping to pay restitution in full by the end of the year.
Niederhauser pleaded guilty to two second-degree felonies — unlawful dealing with property by a fiduciary and theft — in March, while 22 additional felonies were dismissed as part of a plea agreement. The charges will also be reduced to misdemeanors after restitution is paid in full, according to documents filed with the court.
Prosecutors allege Niederhauser took the funds from the victims while they were residing outside of the country by way of several forgeries and withdrawals. The incidents date back to January 2016 and continued through the majority of 2017.
Maynard ordered Niederhauser to report to the Cache County Jail by Friday.