Two-month term for staffer’s thefts from fire station

A former secretary for the fire department in Darrington will spend the first part of the new year in the Snohomish County Jail.

Leila M. Booker-Burns, 39, was sentenced Monday to two months behind bars for stealing $16,400 from Fire District 24 in 2002.

Her attorney, public defender Laura Martin, asked Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Richard Thorp for a special sentencing waiver for first-time offenders. Booker-Burns has no previous arrests.

The waiver would have allowed the judge to sentence her to less time behind bars, and she could have done community service work instead of jail time.

She pleaded guilty Nov. 17, and deputy prosecutor Tim Geraghty recommended the low end of the sentencing range. Geraghty opposed giving Booker-Burns a first-time offender waiver.

He told the judge that there originally were five counts of theft, and that Booker-Burns violated a position of trust.

Thorpe agreed. He said the “state has accommodated the defendant sufficiently” when the prosecutor dropped some of the charges and recommended the low end of the sentencing range.

Booker-Burns managed financial records at the fire department from January 1999 to December 2002.

Prosecutors accuse her of submitting false vouchers to the county and used proceeds for her own purposes.

According to court documents, she spent $7,000 on a 1990 Chevrolet Suburban in April 2002, submitting altered records to hide the fact that the vehicle was purchased for her personal use.

She also used public money to pay for her cell phones, bought computers for her daughter and husband and dipped into the fire district’s petty cash fund for $4,000.

Martin told the judge that Booker-Burns, who now lives in Montana, cooperated in the investigation and readily admitted the thefts. She said her client was going through a tough emotional stretch at the time of the thefts.

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