Sam Krone will not get an early end to his punishment for stealing more than $9,600 in Park County Bar Association funds during his more than a decade-long tenure as the organization’s treasurer.
After serving more than 13 months toward his three-year probation, the former Park County deputy prosecutor and state legislator submitted a request to have his probation – and the felony on his record – dropped so he could work as a mortgage lender or health insurance agent in the next month.
His request was rejected by Sublette County 9th Judicial District Court Judge Marvin Tyler via video conference Tuesday. The judge handled the case because of Krone’s previous positions in Park County.
“Nothing was discussed about early discharge when I approved the plea deal,” Tyler said. “The only thing I discussed about early discharge was Mr. Krone was to satisfy all obligations of his probation conditions and if he did so could be considered for discharge ... but I never offered early discharge or dismissal stipulations.”
Krone and his Sheridan-based attorney Charles Pelkey mentioned multiple times during the hearing Krone’s fulfillment of his probation conditions and cooperation with his probation agent, Wyoming Department of Corrections staffer Tracy Morris.
“It’s been more than a year since Mr. Krone was sentenced,” Pelkey said. “He certainly has complied with everything the court has ordered.”
The main point of discussion Tuesday was Krone’s upcoming employment opportunities. Krone said if his probation was removed he would not be guaranteed but could at least be considered for jobs in mortgage lending or health insurance, both of which require an industry license.
The felony on Krone’s record prevents him from obtaining these licenses currently.
“He’s asking to resume his life and pursue some professional opportunities that would allow him to be a productive member of the community,” Pelkey said.
Tyler found fault with this argument.
“The problem I have is, if we dismiss this there’s still a chance he won’t get licensed,” Tyler said. “I can’t view this as he is foreclosed from obtaining a license. He may still be foreclosed.”
In 2017 Krone pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor counts for theft as part of a deal with the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office. The prosecution of the felony larceny charge was put on hold and if Krone’s probation request had been granted Tuesday, the felony would have been permanently dismissed. Now that dismissal will be postponed until Krone successfully completes his probation. Under the plea deal Krone was also disbarred from practicing law and cannot reapply for three years.
“This would be a great employment opportunity for me,” Krone said.
Wyoming Deputy Attorney General Christyne Martens said she found it concerning Krone might be entrusted with other people’s financials so soon after being convicted for failing to do just that.
“It puts him back in a position of being an advisor, back in a position of trust,” Martens said. “I don’t know if the public is ready to swallow putting him back in a position of trust. The point of a sentence is to punish an offender and make sure people publicly understand this is not acceptable.”
Martens also called upon Morris in her testimony, who said although Krone has fulfilled every obligation of his probation, he has shown a lack of sincerity in their meetings.
“They feel more like formal interviews to me,” Morris said, describing Krone showing up in a suit and tie for their one-on-ones. “Everything is good everything is great, no issues or problems. There’s no how did you get where you are today. No issues resolved.”
Krone expressed remorse for his actions at the hearing.
“I’m deeply sorry for all of this happening,” Krone said. “At the sentencing I was pretty clear I made a mistake. I feel sorry I broke the trust of the bar and the community. That’s something I want to work on and improve and build that trust. I feel sorry everyday for my actions and what they’ve caused.”
Morris criticized these comments.
“He stated remorse but (he had) never been dramatic as today,” Morris said. “I would have loved to hear that at his office visits.”
Morris expressed worry that Krone exhibited no consideration for the risk applying for jobs involving handling of money might bring.
“A lot of times we deal with psychology in analyzing these cases, how you deal with risk with potential for repeat offenses,” Morris said. “It’s a little nerve racking when your looking at financial and trust positions … wanting to pursue a job with US Health (Advisors), which is also involved with people’s financials.”
She added she would have “serious trepidations” about trusting Krone if she was his client.
“He’s been perfectly compliant with his probation requirements but I have discomfort with the type of employments he’s looking to seek,” Morris said. “With him (having been) in such a high profile position as he was in Wyoming, sometimes you may not be able to start back up at the top.”
Pelkey accused the State of discouraging his client from trying to improve his life in a realistic fashion. He said it is unfair to expect Krone to seek employment at McDonalds.
“He is somebody who has committed a crime but does not necessarily have the same education level and background has some of your other office visits,” Pelkey said. “I was taken aback when you suggested he not pursue employment opportunities.”
Krone said he is employed with a local company in town and will continue this employment upon Tyler’s decision. He said he strongly considered going to trial last October but decided against it in favor of a guaranteed sentence which included a 15-day jail term, 20 days house arrest, 240 hours of community service and a bulk restitution payment to the bar association.
“I respect the judge’s decision,” Krone said. “We knew it was a risk going to trial because that can be so expensive and you don’t what a jury will decide … but it’s tough now for the judge to say what you were getting into, when at the same time we knew if we took the deal it allowed for modified probation.”