A 38-year-old woman who wrote forged checks in a desperate effort to make a down payment on court-ordered restitution from a previous fraud case must now spend years in jail for forgery.
A jury found Sherri Lynn Dashney guilty of theft and forgery last month after she wrote two bad checks totaling $5,000 to the Gila County Clerk of the Court in February of 2011. Dashney owed the court more than $30,000 in restitution for four previous felony fraud cases. She was already on probation in those cases.
Now, with four more felony convictions on her record, Dashney must serve 19 years in prison, decided Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill in Globe Monday.
In a pre-sentencing report obtained by the Roundup, Dashney said, “I would like to apologize for what I have done. I know it was very wrong to forge and I am very sorry.”
Dashney’s attorney Barry Standifird asked the court to sentence Dashney to the “super mitigated minimum sentence” of 12.5 years, given she had never been in jail before and is a mother.
“She is facing a very long prison term for the first time in her life,” Standifird wrote.
However, Monday was not the first time Dashney had stood before Cahill for sentencing.
In February 2011, Cahill sentenced Dashney to serve two years in county jail for theft and fraudulent schemes.
Nine months later, Dashney was released and put on probation.
While in jail, Dashney said she thought a lot about her life and realized “that true happiness is not based on the material things, it is based on family and love,” according to the pre-sentencing report.
After her release, Dashney wrote that she started attending church, volunteering at a soup kitchen and working two jobs.
“For these 10 months out, I was given a chance to change and show that the way I lived and what I did before I spent eight months in county jail is not the way I want to live,” she wrote.
Mountain Bible Church’s community dinner coordinator wrote that Dashney had been an excellent volunteer.
“Sherri has a very pleasant way of guarding the dignity of those who come for a meal,” she wrote. “She meets and greets them with respect, giving them value regardless of the condition or demeanor they present.”
However, in March 2011, Desert Schools Federal Credit Union contacted Payson Det. Mike McAnerny after Dashney deposited two checks totaling $5,000.
Those checks later bounced when Dashney wrote another check to the court. She wrote that check to pay down the $30,500 in restitution she owed for four other felony convictions.
Upon investigation, McAnerny learned Dashney had stolen the checks she deposited into her account from homes she had cleaned.
When McAnerny questioned Dashney, she claimed one of the homeowners had given her the money for cleaning and another homeowner gave her a check for the sale of a horse.
McAnerny debunked both of those claims.
Dashney reportedly maintained her innocence throughout the trial, only taking responsibility after the jury found her guilty.
“I know what I did was wrong and I really want to put it behind me and go back to my family,” she told jail officials after the trial.
Dashney has four children who live with their fathers. She told authorities that she has battled depression.
At the time she wrote the bad checks, she faced sentencing for four other felony offenses for which she owed $30,500.
“However, the defendant’s attempt to mitigate her other offense by paying restitution only aggravated her criminal behavior, now forcing the court to impose a prison term whereas the defendant had previously been granted probation in the other criminal matters,” Cahill said.