No jail time.
That was the decision made by Judge John S. Hall Jr. as he sentenced former Whitehall Town Clerk Janet Jillson on Friday, June 26, giving her five years probation for stealing funds from the town.
“I believe that you are sorry,” said Hall. “I made you jump through some extra hoops and do some things that I haven’t asked others to do before now, and everything that I have seen tells me that you are truly remorseful. I had on a tight leash that Miss Jillson did not only live up to, but went above and beyond her end of the bargain.”
Hall alluded to a number of factors that brought him to a decision, including the fact that Jillson had already paid back about $63,000 of the roughly $92,000 she had taken from the town by the time she was caught.
“In most of these cases, I hear a lot of people say that they will pay back and they don’t,” said Hall. “But you paid back.”
In sentencing Jillson, Hall added that a breach of her probation would result in prison time.
“A violation of any of these terms will result in a state prison term of four years,” said Hall.
As he finished, Hall wished Jillson well.
“I wish you the best of luck,” Hall said.
“The judge had a tough decision to make given the circumstances that she had already paid back the town and the community service that she had performed,” said Lawrence Elman, attorney for Jillson. “The district attorney’s office took a strong position and took that since the first day that I had met with them. Her life is back in her hands at this point.”
Before sentencing, Jillson addressed the court, saying that she was sorry for what had happened.
“I’d like to say how truly sorry I am,” she told the court. “I let something take over my life. What I have done not to myself but to my family and to the people who had put their trust in me is unforgivable. I have tried to move forward. I’m truly sorry for everything.”
Jillson pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the third degree, a Class D felony, on Dec. 5, 2008. Since, she was ordered to do community service under the Washington County Alternative Sentencing Program.
At the June 26 proceedings, Hall said that the reports from alternative sentencing were “very favorable.”
“If there were any category higher than excellent, I would check that,” read Hall from one of the reports.
Assistant District Attorney Doug Collyer said while Jillson had completed her community service and had done what she was asked to do, the office still wanted a six-month jail sentence to accompany the probation.
“The people would ask that you impose a six-five split (six months jail, five years probation),” said Collyer. “That was our understanding of and that is what the people have asked for.”
Elman argued that the terms of her sentence should reflect the work and service she had already performed.
“She took this very seriously,” Elman said about the alternative sentencing. “Based on her performance, we are hard-pressed to determine how probation should be addressed. Based on all these factors, I would ask the court to strongly consider a conditional discharge.”
Hall said that he believed the sides based their agreement on how well Jillson did between the plea and sentencing, and opted for no jail time.