Former council member gets tougher sentence

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Leann Sargent, the former Maple Grove City Council member who pleaded guilty to financial exploitation of her elderly father, was resentenced to a longer term of probation Tuesday.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Toddrick Barnette kept much of Sargent’s original sentence, but gave her a felony sentence including a probation term of five years. A different judge had given her a lighter sentence of two years of probation, which would have made her crime only a gross misdemeanor when he sentenced her in April 2014.

“We are satisfied and pleased the court has engendered a meaningful sentence,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “This is a felony and a felony against a vulnerable adult. This is the way it should have been done in the first place.”

Freeman noted that “one of the concerns of our office is that all people are treated equally,” but when she was originally sentenced to a lighter sentence, it looked like special treatment for a public official.

Judge Barnette also imposed the other parts from her earlier sentence, including spending 120 days in the Hennepin County workhouse, which she has completed, not allowing her to hold power of attorney over anyone and not be in a position of financial responsibility in any job or volunteer position. She also was ordered to pay restitution of more than $120,000, which Sargent has done.

Sargent had power of attorney over her father’s finances and he eventually moved into Sargent’s house in 2010, where he remained until his death in March 2012. They had a written agreement that Sargent would provide her father with room, board and personal care for $2,000 a month. She not only took $107,000 more than which she was entitled but also engineered real estate transactions that left Sargent’s brother with mortgage payments of nearly $13,000 he did not expect.

Sargent pleaded guilty in February 2014 to one count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. The county attorney’s office appealed her light sentence to the Minnesota Court of Appeals and earlier this year, it agreed and sent the case back for the new sentencing.