Ex-deputy receives jail term in theft
April 17, 2008
Judge John Tatro sentenced ex-Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Misty Dee to 30 days in jail, calling her theft of bail money appalling and a blight on law enforcement.
Tatro, a Carson City justice of the peace, sentenced Dee on Thursday, filling in for East Fork Judge Jim EnEarl who recused himself.
Dee’s attorney, Derrick Lopez, asked for a sentencing stay so he could appeal Tatro’s decision to district court.
“It’s terrible what this does for the image of law enforcement,” Tatro said. “One weak link brings the whole thing down. It is appalling to me.
“You stole from a prisoner, and from elderly people. By definition, Ms. Dee, you are a thief. You stole.”
Dee, 41, of Gardnerville, pleaded guilty to theft, admitting she stole $3,107 in bail money and from a couple whose home she used to clean.
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Lopez asked Tatro to follow a recommendation for 180 days suspended with no active jail time.
He blamed Dee’s behavior on Zoloft used to treat a bipolar disorder.
“Misty Dee had lived her entire life up to this point with the highest moral character. She had a lifetime of good behavior. Something went wrong,” Lopez said.
Since her arrest, he said Dee was undergoing therapy, had been hospitalized and detoxified from the drug, and prescribed new medication.
“Misty is horrified at her own behavior. She has been humiliated, embarrassed, and suffered the pain of it. She knows people who trusted her were pained by her behavior,” Lopez said.
He said she lost her 15-year career in law enforcement, benefits and what he called a “second chance” job when her arrest became front page news.
“It’s not anybody’s fault outside of her conduct,” he said.
Dee apologized to the court, her former colleagues and her family.
“I am very sorry and embarrassed. These were not just clients, they were friends I betrayed. To the deputies I let down, I am sorry for the pain, and to family and friends,” she said.
Dee said she was overmedicated for several months. She said she made several attempts to find out a medical cause for a rash she developed and memory lapses.
“I believed my family and friends were in danger. I planned to end it by taking my life. It makes no sense, but it made sense to me at the time,” she said.
“I am not a thief. I am not mentally ill. Under normal circumstances, I would not take anything from anyone,” she said.
Capt. John Milby, commander of the Douglas County Jail, said his officers “were interrogated like criminals” during investigation of the theft.
“These are good cops who have done nothing wrong,” he said, indicating the courtroom full of deputies. “When an officer goes from enforcing the law to breaking the law, confidence is eroded for every cop here. Misty Dee stole money from inmates we’re entrusted to care for.”
Tatro approved Lopez’s request that Dee be allowed to serve the 30 days in Carson City Jail. He ordered her to report April 30 unless the sentence is stayed by district court.
Dee was a 15-year deputy with the sheriff’s department before she went to work a year ago for the Department of Alternative Sentencing. She resigned in November, shortly after the theft was discovered.
Tatro sentenced her to 180 days and suspended 150 days. He ordered her to pay a $1,000 fine in addition to restitution that she has already paid.
He placed her on probation for up to two years. The theft was discovered Nov. 6, 2007, when a clerk noticed $2,000 was missing from an envelope that contained cash bail.
Several jail deputies submitted to polygraphs and DNA and handwriting samples before Dee was identified as the suspect.
Originally, she denied the allegation, but never returned to work and left several telephone and e-mail messages with coworkers that she had “screwed up” her life, according to an investigator’s report.