Former Justice Court Judge Patricia Chavez was sentenced Friday to 38 months of unsupervised probation for stealing $2,240 in bail money.
In an emotional statement to the court, Chavez apologized to the community and described the fallout of her crime as an personal hardship."Because of my actions, I've lost a job and a career that I really did value," she said before sentencing.
Sixth District Judge David Mower also sentenced Chavez to pay a yet-to-be determined amount of restitution, serve 200 hours of community service and barred her from having credit cards.
As part of a plea agreement, Chavez had previously pleaded guilty to one count of misusing public monies, a third-degree felony, and agreed to resign. The offense carried a possible one-to five-year prison term.
Chavez originally was charged with five counts of misusing public monies.
The former judge was placed on a paid leave on June 10, 1996 - the day after court clerk Lorna Watson allegedly saw her leaving the office with a sealed envelope containing $340 in bail cash.
As the case languished for more than 1 1/2 years, Chavez was on leave and continued to draw her $30,000 annual salary from the city.
Chavez's case experienced numerous delays, among them an unsuccessful suppression motion and a change in counsel.
Justice court judges - appointed to four-year terms by city and county officials - cannot be removed mid-term unless they are criminally convicted or by order of the Utah Supreme Court.