Hennepin County Attorney appeals Leann Sargent sentencing

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has filed an appeal with the Fourth Judicial District Court in the case regarding Leann Sargent, Maple Grove resident and city council member.

Sargent was found guilty of a gross misdemeanor in Hennepin County Court for financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Her father, Robert E. Bobleter Sr., lived with her from February 2010 until his death in March 2012.

On July 3, a notice of appeal was filed in district court. It states, “the prosecuting attorney in above-entitled case hereby appeals to the Court of Appeals of the State of Minnesota from a sentence imposed by the Honorable Luis Bartlolomei, Judge of Hennepin County District Court, on April 7.”

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office is asking if the district court erred by departing the sentence to a gross misdemeanor instead of a felony “based on impermissible offender-based factors where Sargent stole over $100,000 from her vulnerable father’s estate.” The district court sentenced Sargent to a gross misdemeanor, then a stayed prison term of 36 months, to avoid any negative collateral consequence a felony conviction might have on Sargent’s job on the Maple Grove City Council, the appeal document stated.

Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has stated in the appeal that Sargent “used her power of attorney to manipulate Mr. Bobleter Sr.’s assets and maximize her potential inheritance.” The document claims Sargent “obtained approximately $108,000 in cash or other payments from her father’s accounts and assets.”

The appeals document goes on state, “On Feb. 5, 2014, Sargent entered a straight plea to the sole count in the complaint before Honorable Luis Bartolomei.” This is when she plead guilty. The document adds, “Sargent told that judge that she intended to ask for a gross misdemeanor disposition. A sentence hearing was held on April 7, 2014. Sargent asked the district court to impose a gross misdemeanor sentence. She claimed it was deserved because: she accepted responsibility for her crime, the crime was not violent, she had no prior criminal history, she had adopted two daughters from Korea, she was a church goer, she was physically fragile and she would lose her job as a council member on the Maple Grove City Council if convicted.”

The prosecution objected, but the court was reluctant to impose a felony sentence because it “might compromise Sargent’s ability to pay restitution of she were to lose her job on the Maple Grove City Council.”

Hennepin County argues several reasons for the appeal: the district court’s oral sentence was illegal, imposing what appears to be a gross misdemeanor sentence for a felony conviction is a downward durational departure, district court recognized that the nature of Sargent’s crime warranted imposition of a felony-level sentence, and using Sargent’s job on the city council was an invalid basis to depart from the presumptive felony sentence.

The county’s appeal concluded “the district court’s decision was inconsistent with the express language of the sentencing guidelines, inconsistent with settle law and creates the impression that public officials who engage in criminal behavior get special treatment in the justice system. The district court’s sentence was clear error and must be reversed.

Sargent was sentenced to 120 days, 60 of those she spent in the Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility. She finished her time in the workhouse in the beginning of July. She also will be on electronic home monitoring for a total of 60 days, but will be allowed to attend Maple Grove City Council meetings. Sargent was also required to pay back $107,348 in restitution to her father’s estate, $12,918 to Robert Bobleter Jr. and $587 per moth for future mortgage payments to a cabin.