Former deputy clerk sentenced for embezzlement

A former Kootenai County deputy clerk who embezzled $139,000 over 10 years will begin serving a 90-day jail sentence on Thursday, the day before her 63rd birthday.

First District Judge Fred Gibler on Monday imposed a 90-day jail sentence on Sandra Martinson, whose actions were discovered following her retirement last November. Gibler also sentenced Martinson to pay $49,075 in restitution and to serve five years of supervised probation.

Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall, who handled the case due to Martinson’s three-decade career with Kootenai County, said the restitution represents “every penny” possible considering a five-year statute of limitations. Martinson’s embezzlement spanned the 10 years ending last October.

Under a plea arrangement, Martinson will repay the money at the rate of $1,000 per month.

Speaking from the stand as a prosecution witness, former Kootenai County Commissioner Rick Currie asked that Martinson serve “hard time.” Currie was a commissioner when the embezzlement was discovered.

“I have talked to many of Kootenai County’s employees about this case and they are 100 percent in agreement that a light sentence would send a message that it is OK to abuse the public trust,” Currie said. “A public employee is expected to set a higher standard of trust and when that trust is betrayed the penalty needs to be significantly higher.”

Gibler noted that Martinson has no prior criminal record and suffers from medical ailments, including multiple sclerosis. However, he said, the sentence must send a message “that this type of conduct will be dealt with in a serious manner.

“You elected to steal from the public over an extended period of time” in a “systematic scheme of stealing,” Gibler told Martinson. “Public servants are held to a higher standard when we’re dealing with public funds.”

Just before her sentencing, Martinson apologized “to all” and said she looks back “with remorse and shame” at her actions. “I do not know how to atone for my crime.”

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