Friday, January 14, 2011

Woman gets probation in bad-check case

Former business owner pleads guilty to misdemeanor


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

The owner of a now-defunct furniture store in Hailey was placed on two years probation Monday after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor for writing a bad check for $3,099 to a business associate.

Kimberly Kay Stevens, a 49-year-old Hailey woman, was also ordered to perform 60 hours of community service, pay $177.50 in court costs and pay restitution to a Pocatello woman identified in court records as Kerry V. Harmon. Stevens was also given a withheld judgment, a court provision that allows the conviction to be removed from her record upon successful completion of probation.

Stevens was originally charged with the felony crime of "fraud-insufficient funds check." The charge was reduced to a misdemeanor in a plea agreement with the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. Sentence was pronounced by Judge Robert J. Elgee in Blaine County 5th District Court.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback acknowledged at the hearing that Stevens has no prior criminal history, but said she was charged with a felony because "she should have known when she wrote the check that she didn't have sufficient funds to cover it."

Fredback said the money owed to Harmon was for a couch that Stevens sold for her at Bungalow, a furniture store that was located on Main Street in Hailey before going out of business.

According to court records, Stevens wrote the check on Oct. 20, 2009. She was charged with the crime on Aug. 4, 2010, following an investigation by the Hailey Police Department.

Defense attorney Stephen Thompson told the court that the check was written at a time when Stevens was under "extreme pressure with her business" and that the circumstance resulted from a "significant misunderstanding."

"She did not intend to deceive or defraud anyone, but she is here to take care of it," Thompson said.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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