Woman receives month in prison, home detention

Woman receives month in prison, home detention

URBANA – Deanna Lustfeldt, wife of Iroquois County Circuit Judge Gordon Lustfeldt, was sentenced Monday to one month in prison and nine months of home confinement for embezzling money at the Watseka bank where she formerly worked.

U.S. Central District of Illinois Chief Judge Michael McCuskey said a sentence of probation would be inappropriate.

He sentenced her to 30 days confinement by the federal Bureau of Prisons, but allowed her to self-report to the prison system on June 20. His sentence also included nine months of home confinement, including electronic monitoring.

"This is not a probationable offense," the judge said. "There is no question that she is a good person. There is also no question that she made bad choices when it came to money."

Lustfeldt pleaded guilty Sept. 4, 2007, to taking $18,000 from the Watseka branch of the First National Bank of Gilman between March 14 and April 12, 2007.

According to her plea agreement, Lustfeldt supervised counting of money in the bank vault every Wednesday.

Judge McCuskey said Monday that the bank had been repaid, so there would be no further restitution.

McCuskey denied a motion by attorneys for the bank asking for attorney fees in a civil case in Iroquois County against her.

Based on the circumstances of her case, the judge also gave extra emphasis to a standard condition that Lustfeldt not incur any new debt or open any line of credit.

Her defense attorney, Lawrence Beaumont, a former federal prosecutor, argued that because mental disorders caused her to commit her crime, Lustfeldt should be given a sentence of one hour of confinement by the U.S. marshal and three years of supervised release.

Beaumont argued that a psychiatrist found that a "shopping compulsion" rooted in childhood trauma caused her to spend excessively and, thus is less culpable.

"I see no reason whatsoever to put her in any type of imprisonment, other than the minimal custody of the marshal's office," Beaumont said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin Bruce, who prosecuted the case, recommended a sentence of four months of custody and four months of home confinement, along with three years of supervised release.

He argued that the psychiatrist hired by Lustfeldt's attorney found that she knew what she was doing and knew it was wrong, as shown by the steps she took to conceal it from her husband.

"Here was a lady that was depressed and buying things made her happy," Bruce said.

McCuskey said Lustfeldt's husband, Gordon, acted a year ago to forbid her from using credit cards, but she secretly obtained new credit cards and handed them through a post office box account. The judge said she had five accounts with a total debt of $25,000.

To pay off the debt, she stole $18,000 from the bank and took out a $13,000 bank loan.

"She knew it was wrong to take from the bank, but thought she would get it under control and pay it back," McCuskey said.

That's a pattern commonly seen in bank embezzlement cases, he said.

Kankakee County Circuit Judge Clark E. Erickson, the presiding judge for the 21st Circuit, which includes Kankakee and Iroquois counties, said Gordon Lustfeldt remains the presiding judge for Iroquois County, but that he is currently hearing cases in Kankakee County, including traffic and "conflict cases," where a defendant or attorney expresses a conflict with another judge.

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