Court decision on Irish plea agreement expected Wednesday
Wednesday, Sept. 2, marks an important date in the ongoing legal defense of Brigid Irish.
On Wednesday, Irish will be back in District Court before Judge Mary Hoak for a scheduled arraignment. Wednesday is also the day Judge Hoak is expected to announce her decision to officially accept or deny a plea agreement brokered between the district attorney’s office and Irish’s public defender earlier this summer.
The full details of that plea agreement are unavailable unless and until the agreement is accepted by the Court, but some of the details proposed in July included requiring Irish pay a restitution amount totaling approximately $431,000, spending 32 years on supervised probation and an additional 400 useful public service hours.
Under the terms of the proposed agreement presented in July, Irish would serve no prison time unless she violates the terms of her probation. Irish would be subject to 12 years in prison for violating the terms of her probation.
In the agreement Irish would plead guilty to three of the charges against her, resulting in the dismissal of 928 other charges.
During her last appearance in District Court in mid-July, Irish’s public defender, Chris Hamsher, and the district attorney’s office presented the Court with a plea agreement. At that time Judge Hoak pointedly told both parties she had misgivings about the proposal, explaining she was “unlikely” to accept the deal.
“I am not going to accept this today and I may not accept it at all,” Hoak said. “I am having a hard time with probation and the restitution figure.”
Judge Hoak expressed her desire to hear directly from the victims in the case, Grand County government.
“What is the county’s position on this?” Judge Hoak asked in July. “They are the victim. I want to know what they want. If they don’t want to be heard or appear that is fine, but I would like to know that.”
In July Hoak said she was hesitant to grant probation but realized it would likely be impossible for Irish to pay restitution to the county while serving prison time. The judge explained she wanted to know what was more important to the county, restitution or incarceration.
Judge Hoak is under no obligation to accept the proposed agreement. If the Court does not accept the plea as presented the case will continue moving through the legal system in a normal fashion. If the agreement is rejected the D.A.’s office and Irish’s public defender can attempt to work out a new plea agreement to be presented later.
Irish stands accused of misappropriating more than $600,000 in Grand County Building Department funds while working as an administrative assistant. She first began working for the building department in 2001. The funds were first discovered missing in Oct. 2013. Irish was arrested and charged in May 2014.
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