JAMESTOWN, N.D. - A Woodworth woman was sentenced to more than four years in prison Monday, Jan. 28, after entering Alford pleas under a plea agreement to charges related to what had been called an adoption scam.
Betty Jo Krenz, who is age 47 or 48, entered the pleas to charges of theft of property, a Class C felony, and theft of property, a Class B misdemeanor, in Southeast District Court in Jamestown. A charge of unauthorized use of identifying information was dropped.
Krenz was accused of taking money from a Medford, Ore., family under the guise of facilitating an adoption for them. The couple said they'd been trying to adopt a child for 18 years, according to authorities.
An Alford plea means the defendant acknowledges there is enough evidence to be convicted of the crime but does not admit to the crime.
The plea deal included a recommended sentence of one year and one day in jail with all but nine months suspended.
Krenz said in a statement to the court that “she knew in her heart she never meant to harm anyone.”
Judge Cherie Clark departed from the recommended sentence, instead sentencing Krenz to four years in the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on the felony charge and 30 days in the Stutsman County Correctional Center on the misdemeanor.
The sentences are to be served consecutively. Restitution to the victims of the scam is to be determined over the next 60 days and added to the sentence.
Clark said the victims had “lost more than money.”
“They lost trust and their ability to hope,” she said in passing sentence.