Following a heated change-of-plea and sentencing hearing, a Bellevue woman was sentenced to 240 hours of community service to be completed in six months, and to serve three days of jail time following a guilty plea to misdemeanor injuring or destroying a vehicle.
Lou Ann Oneida, 64, will also be on two years of supervised probation, during which she must submit to regular drug testing for smoking marijuana while driving and eventually destroying her employer’s 2008 Porsche Cayenne between March and June of last year. While in possession of the vehicle, Oneida was pulled over, charged and convicted of possession of marijuana, the prosecuting attorney said during the sentencing hearing.
“[You] expressed little concern for yourself and your health when you were driving around high in someone else’s vehicle,” Magistrate Judge Jennifer Haemmerle said at the sentencing hearing on Monday.
Prosecuting attorney Matt Fredback said that the car was declared totaled by the owner’s car insurance company. In a probable-cause affidavit written by Ketchum Division of the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Kyle Murphy, Murphy reported that the vehicle had been taken to Classic Drivers in Ketchum, “where it was noted that there was approximately $5,324 in damages, as well as further damages pending estimates.”
At the hearing on Monday, Fredback was uncertain of the exact amount of restitution that Oneida will be responsible for paying by the end of her probation period, but said the amount would be in the thousands of dollars. Haemmerle gave him 30 days to come up with the exact number.
Oneida’s public defense attorney, Peggy Boggs, spoke on behalf of her client, saying that it was unclear to Oneida what the contractual agreement between her and the vehicle’s owner was. Oneida claimed to believe she was supposed to keep the car in her control, and not allow the owner’s daughter to take it. But while in possession of the Porsche, Oneida admitted to smoking in the vehicle, and Fredback said there were markings on the roof and floor of the vehicle where Oneida put out her cigarettes.
While Oneida gave a brief apology for the damages, she deflected responsibility, which Haemmerle was not pleased about.
“All I’ve heard today … is that you really aren’t guilty,” Haemmerle said.
When handing down her sentence, Haemmerle made it clear to the defendant that had she wanted to argue the charges, she shouldn’t have pleaded guilty.
“You seem to have an attitude that the rules of society don’t apply to you,” Haemmerle said.
Originally, Oneida was charged with felony operating a vehicle without owner’s consent and causing $1,000 or more of damages, but the plea agreement amended the charge to a misdemeanor, which Oneida agreed to plead guilty to on Monday.