Suzanne LaBombard, 51, apologized to Grand Isle residents for embezzling at least $100,000 from 2001 through 2006 at the end of her 22 years as town clerk, treasurer and tax collector in Isle La Motte.
"I'm so very sorry for what I did. I succumbed to temptation and made the worst decisions I ever made," LaBombard said in court. "I have strong faith and close loved ones who have helped me through this most difficult time."
The state wanted her to serve at least one year in prison as a deterrent to those who would betray the public trust.
"She has caused deep divisions within her community and she has defrauded her community over a period of years and of substantial amounts of money," Vt. Assistant Attorney General John Treadwell said.
The town's select board attended the hearing to support the state request for at least for one year behind bars for LaBombard.
"The views expressed in the letter reflect what we believe are the overwhelming public sentiment in regard to this matter," said Steve Stata, a member of the Isle La Motte select board.
LaBombard's lawyer, Frank Twarog, disagreed.
"I know of no empirical data that has been presented showing the court statistically that the vast majority of that town wants Ms. LaBombard to go to jail," Twarog said.
In the end, Vt. District Court Judge Gregory Rainville struck a middle ground, sentencing LaBombard to serve 90 days behind bars.
"I have to base my decision on the evidence, not on the public vote, not on what the majority of the people want the court to do," Judge Rainville said. "Because otherwise, we'd have lynchings, and we are a system of government to prevent that type of behavior."
"Suzanne LaBombard declined comment after the sentencing hearing. The judge gave her until January 4 to get her affairs in order and then to report to the women's prison in St. Albans to serve her 90-day sentence.
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