An appeals court ruled this week that former Eau Claire County Treasurer Larry Lokken cannot be given an additional five years in prison if he doesn’t pay full restitution in a required amount of time.
But the 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled that the state Department of Corrections could still revoke Lokken’s probation if full restitution is not paid, meaning Eau Claire County Judge Jon Theisen could add prison time to Lokken’s original sentence.
In May 2015, Lokken and his former office manager, Kay Onarheim, were each charged with 11 counts of theft in a business setting in an amount greater than $10,000 and three counts of misconduct in office.
The criminal complaint alleged Lokken and Onarheim had stolen $625,758 from the county between 2011 and 2013.
The parties subsequently reached a plea agreement, which required Lokken to plead no contest to three counts of misconduct in office and five of the theft counts. The agreement also required Lokken to stipulate to paying $625,758 in restitution.
In exchange, the state agreed to recommend that the remaining charges be dismissed, not to file additional charges against Lokken arising out of the same course of conduct, not to file any charges against Lokken’s wife, Virginia, and cap its sentence recommendation at 6½ years of prison and seven years of extended supervision.
On Nov. 9, 2015, Theisen accepted Lokken’s no contest pleas, and at his sentencing in January 2016, Theisen confirmed with Lokken and District Attorney Gary King they were stipulating to the restitution amount and sentenced Lokken to 9½ years of prison and 11 years of extended supervision.
On one of the theft charges, Theisen ordered an additional five years of both prison and supervision if restitution by both Lokken and Onarheim wasn’t paid in full within 4½ years.
The appellate court ruled that Theisen exceeded his authority to impose more prison time if restitution wasn’t paid within 4½ years.
The appellate court said it is up to the Department of Corrections to determine whether he violated conditions of his probation “to such a degree as to warrant revocation” if restitution isn’t paid within the required time frame.
If Lokken’s 10-year probation term is revoked by the DOC, Theisen would re-sentence him on one of the theft charges, meaning time could still be added to his 9½-year prison term.
As of early March, Lokken and Onarheim had paid almost $70,000 in court-ordered restitution, according to the DOC, with Onarheim repaying more than $52,000.
In March 2016, Theisen sentenced Onarheim to eight years of prison followed by nine years of extended supervision. Theisen ordered another five years in prison if she doesn’t pay restitution in full by July 2020.
Onarheim never appealed her sentencing by Theisen.