Maple Grove City Councilwoman fights to stay in office after rel - KMSP-TV

Maple Grove City Councilwoman fights to stay in office after release

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MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (KMSP) -

A Maple Grove City Council member is fighting to keep her job after serving jail time. Leann Sargent confessed to ripping off her late father’s estate but won’t admit her family matter should interfere with her public service.

Sargent was charged in January 2013 with perjury and financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, but the perjury charges were later dropped. In April of 2014, Sargent filed a straight plea. Some of her fellow city council members have asked her to resign, but under state law, she doesn’t have to unless she’s convicted of a felony.

Sargent was released from jail on Saturday after spending the past couple of months at the county workhouse. Now, pressure for her to resign from council is growing. Maple Grove residents have spoken out at council meetings, and someone started a Facebook Page called “Unseat Leann Sargent.”

Most recently, the Hennepin County Attorney’s office filed an appeal saying the 60 days at the workhouse, plus time on electronic home monitoring, doesn’t meet sentencing guidelines. The county wrote in the appeal that Sargent “stole approximately 100 times more than the statutory limit for a gross misdemeanor crime but received what amounts to a gross misdemeanor sentence. This is in no way proportionate to the severity of her crime.”

“If anyone deserves a break, she does,” Sargent’s attorney, Chris Ritts, told Fox 9 News.

Ritts explained that, as the longest running member of council, his client wants to stay put for many reasons -- plus, her $13,000 salary will help pay restitution.

“I think this is a mean spirited, somewhat politically motivated appeal," he said. "It looks like they are just trying to punish her more after she has already served her jail sentence.”

Many are now waiting to see if the appeal goes through -- and if Sargent will end up serving more time.

“Let’s not make any mistake -- she admits wrongdoing," Ritts said. "But what we're talking about, I guess, is the degree and what's the best way to help victims and make the restitution? That’s why this decision by the court was thoughtful. That's why this appeal is stupid.”

Sargent was reelected in 2012 after these accusations came to light. Her current term runs until 2017.

FROM THE FOX 9 ARCHIVE

Oct. 9, 2012: Siblings say Maple Grove City Councilwoman abused power of attorney

Jan. 29, 2013: Maple Grove councilwoman accused of financial exploitation, perjury

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