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RX fraud draws 11 years

Friday, October 5, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

In spite of appeals from family and friends, a Cornersville woman was sentenced to 11 years in prison this week.

Kimberly Wentzel, 50, was found guilty of six counts of prescription fraud and two counts of identity theft after a two-and-a-half day jury trial in April.

"The state takes the position the defendant is a Range III offender," said Assistant District Attorney Mike Randles. "She's been doing it for years. She's a professional at this. A court should look at her and say 'no more.' This is someone who deserves a big sentence."

Witnesses speaking on Wentzel's behalf included her mother, Shirley Hickman.

"I'm asking the court to let her come home and be with her family. Her 17-year-old needs her very, very much," Hickman said.

Husband Darrell Wentzel agreed, stating, "I'd like for her to come home and take care of the children. She's helped a lot of people out. She's a caring person."

Kimberly Wentzel was also called to the witness stand.

"I will stay on house arrest for the rest of my life," she said tearfully. "I'm asking for alternative sentencing."

"Are you guilty of these crimes?" Randles asked.

"Yes, I'm guilty," Wentzel replied.

"It's not the first time you have been convicted of crimes like these," Randles said, listing convictions for obtaining drugs by fraud dating back to 1997. She also has a 1996 conviction for facilitation of armed robbery in Williamson County.

Defending Wentzel, attorney Hershell Koger of Pulaski requested a 10-year sentence, with Wentzel serving six months in jail before being released to community corrections.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler could not agree with him.

"Community corrections has been tried and failed in her case," the judge said. "I'm going to deny alternative sentencing." Crigler placed great weight on Wentzel's prior convictions, her violations of probation, and her two parole revocations.

He sentenced her to 11 years on each count, all to be served at the same time. As a Range III offender, Wentzel must serve 45 percent of her sentence before being eligible for a parole board hearing. She has 159 days of jail credit.

Crigler also denied Koger's motion for a new trial.

Wentzel would have been sentenced in June, but Lewisburg attorney Rob Dalton, who represented her at the trial, was allowed to withdraw from her case. Crigler appointed Koger to replace Dalton. The sentencing hearing was delayed while the court reporter prepared a transcript of the trial for Koger. Then he needed time to read the document, which was over 700 pages long.