A 49-year-old Sayner woman who admitted to stealing $25,000 from the Trig's South Gas Station in Minocqua over the course of a year received a withheld sentence, three years of probation and four months in jail, after pleading no contest Tuesday morning to a reduced charge.
Gina E. Ozelie was charged Aug. 20, 2019 with theft in a business setting for allegedly stealing $25,260 by shorting money she was supposed to be loading into the station's ATM.
According to the criminal complaint, a Minocqua police officer was shown a printout from the ATM showing the history of shortages losses, the first allegedly occurring July 7, 2018 for $220. The record showed a total of 56 losses, with the last taking place on July 27.
After waiving her Miranda rights, Ozelie told police she started stealing the money when she started having trouble paying bills and supporting her two children, according to the complaint. She told the officer she had no idea of the total amount she had taken.
The original charge was a class G felony with a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of not more than $25,000. However, on Tuesday, assistant district attorney Jillian Pfeifer amended the charge to theft, a class I felony with a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and two years extended supervision in exchange for the no contest plea. Pfeifer recommended that Oneida County Circuit Judge Patrick O'Melia hand down a sentence of three years probation with six months in jail along with court costs and restitution.
After briefly summarizing the facts in the case, Pfeifer made note of Ozelie's cooperation with law enforcement, and said that the sentence should be in line with similar cases heard recently.
She argued that some period of jail time was important to reinforce the gravity of the offense.
Ozelie's defense attorney Gary Cirilli stressed his client's cooperation and her a lack of a criminal record and noted that she was not stealing the money due to gambling or drug concerns. Cirilli said Ozelie got behind in the bills at home and gave into temptation.
He then asked O'Melia to sentence Ozelie to 60 days in jail, arguing that for someone who has never been in trouble before that period of incarceration would be a deterrent to more illegal acts.
Given her chance to speak, a tearful Ozelie told Bloom she was sorry.
"I want to work and be a good person to take care of my daughter and mother," she said.
Before handing down the sentence, Bloom touched on Ozelie's lack of a criminal record and other marks in her favor, but the gravity of the offense was the overriding factor, the judge said.
"The record is relatively clear in an objective way that what we got here is basically the fact of over $26,000 (stolen) over the course of about a year," Bloom said.
He noted her cooperation was a mitigating aspect for her.
"Both in gravity of the offense and her character," Bloom said. "But the implications of someone taking, stealing over $25,000 over a one year period is significant."
The judge also noted that some of the money went to help keep a child in college.
"There are families in Oneida County - and everywhere else - who aren't able to send their children to college," Bloom said. "And while the motivation to want to see one's children be able to obtain a college education and utilize that to benefit them in their lives is honorable and natural, it does not justify theft."
Bloom also reasoned that this is a case where some period of incarceration is necessary "to put everyone else on notice."
In addition to the jail time, which Ozelie must start serving on or before March 21, she must pay $27,786 in restitution, which includes the state mandated 10-percent surcharge.
She will be allowed to serve the four months in jail under Huber terms.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at email@example.com.
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