SANTA ROSA, Calif. -- The wife of a former Santa Rosa Junior College police officer was sentenced Thursday to nine months in Sonoma County Jail for her role in the theft of $280,000 of parking machine money from the college over a seven-year period.
Deputy District Attorney Amy Ariyoshi had asked Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Gary Medvigy to sentence 51-year-old Karen Holzworth to 16 months in prison, while Holzworth's attorney George Boisseau asked for probation.
Holzworth will serve half her county jail term and three years' probation, Ariyoshi said. Medvigy gave her until April 17 at 7 p.m. to turn herself in at the jail after Boisseau said Holzworth needs a week to get her affairs in order, including quitting her three jobs.
Her husband Jeffrey Holzworth, a 28-year employee at the college, pleaded guilty last year to one count of grand theft and 11 counts of receiving stolen property. He was sentenced in May to four years in prison.
A jury convicted Karen Holzworth in February of one felony count of being an accessory after the fact and two misdemeanor counts of receiving stolen property.
The theft of parking machine money occurred between 2005 and 2012. Holzworth testified at her trial that the money she deposited in the bank came from her winnings at Bingo games and a casino and from the repayment of $68,000 she loaned a relative.
Ariyoshi told the judge that Karen Holzworth wasn't convicted because she didn't turn in her husband, but rather because of what she did with the parking money. She said $255,000 went into Karen Holzworth's individual account and the couple's joint account, and Karen had $113,845 "in her hands."
"She knew where the money was coming from and she willingly assisted," Ariyoshi said.
Defense attorney George Boisseau argued for probation because Holzworth had no criminal history, was working three jobs and helping her daughter through college. He said the theft was significant but did not greatly change Holzworth's lifestyle. He said his client made a "grievous mistake."
"She's lost pretty much everything," Boisseau said.
The Sonoma County Probation Department had recommended a six-month county jail term for Holzworth. Medvigy said he wanted to hear from Holzworth, who cried throughout the sentencing hearing, because she did not speak directly with the probation department.
Holzworth said she was crying because she embarrassed her family and caused them pain. She said she is in counseling and wants to make amends with her family.
Medvigy told Holzworth he did not find her trial testimony credible or her explanations forthright. He said video evidence at the trial showed Holzworth depositing bags of coins in the bank.
"Her story was just unbelievable and I believe she perjured herself," Medvigy said. "This is the first time I've heard sincere remorse."
Sentencing Holzworth to prison, however, would have a negative impact on her family that does seem to be struggling, Medvigy said.
The thefts had a untold economic impact on the college, the students and the community, Medvigy said. He said the sizeable violation of trust is worthy of punishment and denied any alternative, such as home confinement, to jail incarceration.