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Ex-court clerk going to jail

ST. GEORGE — Former 5th District Court clerk Susan N. Scott will spend at least 90 days in the Washington County Jail and repay tens of thousands of dollars in public funds that she stole from the court, a judge ruled Friday.

"I just wake up every morning hoping this is a nightmare and that it will go away," a tearful Scott, 52, told 6th District Court Judge David L. Mower. "I want to say how sorry I am for putting my family through this hurt, pain, shame and disappointment. I will work the rest of my life to earn back their respect."

Scott, who was the court clerk for both 5th District Court and Juvenile Court in Washington County, was arrested Aug. 2, 2002, after being confronted by her supervisor and an auditor over irregularities discovered in court trust accounts. Auditors from the Administrative Office of the Courts said Scott stole as much as $80,000 over a two-year period.

Scott, who originally was charged with misuse of public funds and theft, both second-degree felonies, accepted a plea agreement with the state on Jan. 24 and pleaded guilty to an additional two counts of forgery, a third-degree felony.

In exchange for Scott's guilty plea, prosecutors agreed not to file additional charges and to remain silent at her sentencing, said Washington County deputy attorney Ryan Shaum.

Defense attorney V. Lowry Snow, who has since hired Scott to work in his law office, said his client is "incredibly remorseful."

"I don't think I've ever encountered a more difficult case in terms of the human element," said Snow. "Susan enjoyed the trust of the court and the public, her supervisors and all she worked with in the court administrator's office. All those trusts at every level have been broken, there's no question about that."

Even with that betrayal, said Snow, friends of Scott wrote letters to the court in her support.

"No one attempts to condone or justify her actions," said Snow. "We were all shocked by her actions. This is not the person they thought they knew."

Family members and friends of Scott were in the courtroom Friday, as were several former colleagues who were victims in the case.

Brent Johnson, general counsel for the Administrative Office of the Courts, read portions of a statement that included comments from more than a dozen victims.

"One individual said Ms. Scott's actions were calculated, deceitful and very criminal. She stole a signature, which is like stealing someone's soul," Johnson read. "Another said Ms. Scott knew she was a public figure for the courts and a lot of trust was placed in her. That was just obliterated with these acts."

Mower sentenced Scott to one to 15 years in the Utah State Prison for each second-degree felony and zero to five years for each third-degree felony, to be served consecutively.

The judge then suspended the sentences and placed Scott on a 36-month probation. She was ordered to report to the Washington County jail at 6 p.m. that day to begin serving a one-year sentence with work-release privileges. Mower will review her jail time after 90 days, he said.

Attorneys have yet to agree on the exact amount of restitution Scott should pay, although auditors said it could be as much as $101,000.