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December 11, 2012 9:33 am

Woman imprisoned for car burglaries

Written by CJ Baker

A Powell woman is serving five to seven years in prison for stealing items from more than a dozen cars earlier this year.

Lori A. Viarengo, 33, accepted the prison time as part of a plea deal with the Park County Attorney’s Office.

“I just want to say I’m sorry for the crimes that I did, and I think that five to seven is more than enough time,” Viarengo told District Court Judge Steven Cranfill back at her Aug. 1 sentencing. Cranfill, as a matter of routine procedure, had asked her to explain why the deal was appropriate.

Viargeno’s court-appointed attorney, Brigita Krisjansons of Cody, noted that Viarengo expedited the process by owning up to the crimes she’d committed and reaching a plea deal just a couple months after her arrest.

“I think she’s taken accountability,” Krisjansons told Cranfill. “She certainly has expressed remorse to me.”

The judge encouraged Viarengo to get involved with programs offered by the women’s center aimed at helping inmates gain employment skills for when they are released.

“I know there’s some things that can be very positive and I hope you’ll take advantage of that and you’re able to use some of those skills when you get out,” Cranfill said.

Deputy Park County Attorney Tim Blatt said after the hearing that Viarengo’s past criminal convictions played a role in his decision to seek the five to seven years of prison time on the count of burglary. As part of the deal, a second count of burglary was dismissed and Blatt agreed not to file charges for any of the other burglaries.

Meanwhile, Amanda Griffin — the woman Viarengo was living with and who was reportedly using some of the stolen items — was sentenced in October to five years of supervised probation. That was in addition to the not quite two weeks in jail she served after her April 13 arrest. Griffin, 27, had pleaded guilty to a felony count of receiving, concealing or disposing of stolen property worth more than $1,000. However, if she successfully completes the probation, the charge against her will be dismissed under a deferred prosecution agreement for first-time offenders.

Both Griffin and Viarengo must pay $245 in court fees and assessments and — between the two of them — pay $1,301.29 in restitution for stolen cash and items that were damaged or not recovered.

In a payment plan finalized Nov. 28, Griffin agreed to pay $80 a month toward the total, while Viarengo will presumably be unable to make any payments until her release from prison.

Police say that over a three-day period in March, Viarengo stole cash and items that included an iPod, credit cards, gift cards, a wallet, a camera, a laptop and other items from vehicles parked at Powell High School, Lovell High School, Northwest College and the Powell Aquatic Center. Most of the vehicles were unlocked.

Viarengo had been implicated after an off-duty Powell police officer saw her burglarizing a sedan in a Northwest College parking lot. She had fled the scene in Griffin’s Pontiac Grand Am, which helped police later figure out who Viarengo was.

Powell police later found stolen items in the Dumpster used by Viarengo and Griffin and seized many stolen items from their house, an apartment they were moving to and a storage unit they used. Griffin was reportedly wearing stolen sunglasses belonging to a Lovell High School student when police searched her Grand Am.

After Viarengo’s March 22 arrest, Griffin had reportedly told her that police had overlooked some of the stolen items in the Grand Am; police later listened to a recording of the call and included that information in the charging affidavit against Griffin.

Krisjansons had said at a June hearing that the plea deal with Viarengo would resolve pending charges in Big Horn County related to the Lovell thefts and include restitution for those victims. However, the restitution ordered in the Park County case ultimately only covered the Powell crimes.

“It is our intention to charge Ms. Viarengo separately for her crimes here and seek our own restitution,” said Big Horn County Attorney Michelle Burns in an email to the Tribune last week.

Burns added that she doesn’t see any potential charges against Griffin in Big Horn County.

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