Wyoming Supreme Court affirms district court restitution ruling
August 22, 2019
CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Supreme Court last week affirmed a decision out of Laramie County District Court that requires a local woman to pay restitution following her “no contest” plea to exploiting a vulnerable adult.
Linda M. Freeman appealed the decision on the basis that the district court acted “contrary to law” by awarding restitution to the victim’s estate. District Judge Catherine Rogers ordered Freeman to pay the estate $532,890.80 in restitution.
Freeman raised four issues to the Supreme Court: whether the district court erred in ordering restitution, whether the restitution order is valid, whether failure to submit a restitution plan invalidates the restitution order and whether there was sufficient evidence for restitution.
Freeman pleaded no contest in accordance with a plea agreement, and, according to case law cited in the opinion, “agreeing in their plea agreements to pay restitution for the property damage and by failure to object to the restitution amount, the appellants waived their rights to contest the restitution awards on appeal.”
The Supreme Court found that since she was sentenced according to a plea agreement that included the restitution amounts, she waived her right to contest the restitution.
Justices also found Judge Rogers made no errors when she was deciding the matter of Freeman’s restitution.
According to the opinion:
Freeman had been taking money from the victim, who was suffering from poor health, including dementia, and other problems. The victim died on Aug. 7, 2007.
While the victim was a resident at the Cheyenne Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Freeman gained access to his bank accounts and transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars from his account into her own.
Freeman had a civil lawsuit filed against her by the estate and was ordered to pay $722,870.56, plus punitive damages. She had only made one payment of $526.10 toward the judgement.
Since she failed to make payments, estate representatives contacted law enforcement, and criminal charges were filed against Freeman. She was sentenced in Laramie County District Court in July 2018 to eight to 10 years of incarceration, suspended for 10 years of probation.