CLINTON — Despite resistance from Assistant Clinton County Attorney Ross Barlow, District Court Judge Mark Cleve granted a Nebraska woman a deferred judgment for felony theft.
Alexis U. Kepani, 21, appeared Thursday in Clinton County District Court for sentencing for second-degree theft, a Class D felony.
Barlow supported the court granting Kepani a suspended sentence, citing the plea agreement. Barlow cited Kepani’s young age and minimal criminal history. He resisted any request for a deferred judgment, stating the offense took place over a period of months. Barlow also requested Kepani be ordered to pay $6,058 in victim restitution.
Defense attorney John Kies asked the court to consider granting Kepani a deferred judgment. Kies stated Kepani has been successful in college and was naive in committing the offense. Kies said Kepani took responsibility for her actions and requested the court give Kepani an opportunity to show the court she can complete probation.
Cleve granted Kepani a deferred judgment. He stated it was a very serious offense but cited Kepani’s age and lack of a criminal history as reasons for the deferred judgment. He placed her on probation for two years. A $750 fine was suspended. Cleve ordered Kepani to pay $6,058 in victim restitution.
According to the affidavit, on Sept. 29, 2015, two individuals came to the Clinton Law Center and made a report of fraud. A male reported he met Kepani when they both attended Ashford University in the spring of 2015. Kepani talked to the male in June 2015 and told him she knew someone received money from the male. Kepani persuaded the victim that the male defrauded him and her uncle, an FBI agent, planned to work the case to find and arrest the male. Kepani convinced the victim to send her money by wire transfer to finance the FBI pursuit and prosecution of the male. Kepani represented she also sent money to finance the pursuit of the male. The victim, using funds mostly from his mother, sent another $7,170 to Kepani from June 2015 to August 2015. The victim sometimes received text messages from others posing as investigators, telling him to send the money to Kepani.
The affidavit states the victim turned over his phone to police in October 2016. Police reviewed the records, which showed messages from the phone the victim described as Kepani’s. The messages corroborated the victim’s statements about Kepani sending him text messages, telling him her uncle conducted an investigation into a male and arrested him.
The affidavit continues that on Nov. 14, officers located and interviewed Kepani at Bellevue University in Nebraska. Kepani admitted she told the victim her uncle, an FBI agent, needed money to conduct an investigation of the fraud suspect. Kepani admitted she knew no FBI agents and fabricated the account to obtain money from the victim. She estimated she received $2,000 from the victim, knowing there was no FBI investigation.