Woman sentenced for stealing money from purse
February 7, 2012
A 65-year-old Johnson Lane woman was sentenced Thursday to probation after she pleaded no contest to taking more than $1,100 from the purse of a patron at a beauty parlor.
Paula Sibley apologized to the 75-year-old Minden woman, and said she was happy she was able to repay the loss.
Lawyer Derrick Lopez said his client couldn’t remember committing the offense, but admitted she did it after a Douglas County sheriff’s investigator told her the crime was captured on videotape which was not true.
“My client is quite possibly not guilty,” Lopez said. “From the get-go, she denied it, but she became convinced she did do it. She believed the law enforcement officer was being honest when he said he had seen her on videotape. She’s had prior mental health lapses, and a prior history of stealing from stores.”
Lopez said Sibley pleaded no contest to attempted theft, a gross misdemeanor, to avoid prosecution on a more serious offense with the potential of a jury conviction.
“I’m very, very sorry for your loss and your pain that this caused you and your family. I am glad I was able to make you whole. I hope you will forgive me someday,” Sibley told the victim.
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Gamble sentenced her to six months in Douglas County Jail, suspended, and placed her on probation for 18 months. She is to have no contact with the victim.
“This is a mysterious little set of events,” Gamble said. “It’s appropriate for investigators to do what they did, but it would behoove them to know more about the suspect’s mental health before engaging in a ruse.”
Gamble said he was convinced that Sibley stole the money.
Prior to sentencing, the judge said someone had obtained copies of court documents involving the case which were wrapped around candy canes and distributed anonymously in Sibley’s neighborhood before Christmas.
“It’s an offensive extra-judicial punishment that shouldn’t be done,” Gamble said.
Lopez said the Sibleys believe the copies may have been distributed in retaliation for a dispute within the homeowners’ association.