Sioux Falls, SD
Another local case that got national attention has come to a conclusion in a Minnehaha County courtroom Tuesday.
KELOLAND Investigates was tipped off last year that Marna Gietzen had embezzled money from her employer Volunteers of America. Yet no charges were filed at the time.
In a follow up to our KELOLAND News investigation, we know why that was. Now Gietzen has admitted to the crime and received her punishment.
Gietzen pleaded guilty in court to stealing between $2,500 and $5,000 from clients at Volunteers of America between August of 2014 and December of 2015.
She didn't have a response when we asked if she had anything to say to the Volunteers of American clients who she stole from. But Gietzen had plenty to say on the Dr. Phil show back in February when it aired on KELOLAND TV.
Phil McGraw: It sounds to me that your daughter is right. You're full of s***. Why did you lose your job at the volunteer place?
Gietzen: I was being investigated for misappropriating of funds.
Dr. Phil: This is a volunteer organization where you're helping the disadvantaged population, right?
Gietzen was portrayed as an alcoholic on the Dr. Phil show and her daughter told KELOLAND News appearing on the show was a last ditch effort to get Gietzen help for her addiction. The program did put Gietzen through treatment. In court on Tuesday, her attorney Mike Butler told the judge that Gietzen had regrets for going on the show because of the way she was portrayed and the public embarrassment. But Butler said it also got her into a long-term program so she didn't regret that.
Kennecke: Would you want to talk about this case when you mentioned publicity?
Butler: Nope, I’ll put an end to it by not talking about it.
In court, Gietzen told the judge: "I can't take back what I did to clients and they entrusted me and I took advantage of that. It was wrong morally." She went on to say, “I’m not going to use alcoholism as an excuse for my behavior, but I've struggled with alcoholism my whole life."
State prosecutors told the judge they learned of the VOA embezzlement in 2016, but delayed the charges to give Gietzen a chance to deal with her issues. Gietzen has paid the money back and written letters of apologies to Volunteers of America.
For her sentencing, the judge said she was also keeping in mind Gietzen’s prior conviction in 1995 for embezzling $59,000 from Ken Hirsch Travel in Huron. As part of a plea deal, Gietzen will spend 45 days in jail starting on July 3 and will be on supervised probation for 30 months, in which she must continue treatment for alcoholism.
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