BRIGHAM CITY Pulling an oxygen tank in one hand and holding a cane in the other, Jill Ekstrom faced a judge who pronounced her sentence.
Ekstrom, 43, was sentenced Tuesday in 1st District Court to 18 months probation, a $540 fine and $850 restitution to the Davis County Sheriff's Office for stealing hundreds of adoption records from the 2nd District Courthouse in Farmington.
Speaking to the judge at sentencing, Ekstrom cried and trembled, saying she had lost many things because of the charges including her family, her income and her health.
Judge Ben Hadfield ordered medical and psychological evaluations, saying he didn't know if her vast medical problems are real or imagined. He also said Ekstrom had a "victim mentality."
"I suspect to a large extent you think you are a victim," he said, but did not impose jail time in case her health claims were justified.
Ekstrom made a living as an adoption finder, who could track down birth parents or adopted children. She pleaded no contest in June to five counts of class A misdemeanor stealing records. Other charges were dropped.
She was accused of stealing dozens of rolls of microfilmed adoption records from a room in the clerk's office of the Davis County Courthouse. She was arrested in a sting, where a Davis County sheriff's deputy posed as an adopted child searching for a birth mom. Ekstrom claimed she was "pressured" to find the mother.
In an interview after her sentencing, Ekstrom told the Deseret News she took a plea deal because the case was affecting her family, not because she was guilty.
"The victims in this were the children," she said, referring to her children whom she said moved into their father's house because of insults directed at their mother.
Ekstrom said she also took the deal because of her health, because her public defender was overworked and the lack of money to hire better legal representation. She said she wrote a letter to the judge asking if she could do community service instead of jail so she could help people and turn her case into a positive experience."That's all I ask. Give me something to do that makes a difference," Ekstrom said.