Judge criticizes sentence guidelines in sending man to jail

Steven Vroman, left, appears for his sentencing hearing Friday morning in 35th Circuit Court in Corunna.

CORUNNA — A Bannister man was sentenced Friday to nine months in jail on a charge of false pretenses ($1,000-$20,000) by 35th Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart, who called scoring guidelines in the case “almost offensive.”

In addition to the jail sentence, Steven Vroman, 48, received two years of probation. The first nine months of his probation will be served in jail. Stewart also ordered Vroman to pay court fines and costs, as well as $4,345.96 in restitution.

Vroman was credited with one day served, and will not be allowed to participate in work release.

“I told you back on Oct. 9 that you really needed to come to court ready to make the victim whole,” Stewart told Vroman. “You remember that? I told you that. That was two months ago, and all you could bring was $300. The victim will be made whole, one way or the other. You’ve elected not to make your victim whole in terms of restitution, so we’ll have to go the other way.”

Vroman was charged June 26 with false pretenses ($1,000-$20,000) and using a computer to commit a crime, both felonies. He was arraigned July 16 by 66th District Court Judge Terrance Dignan; not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf. Court records do not indicate the amount bond was set at, but Vroman had been free until Friday’s sentencing.

At a hearing Oct. 9, Vroman agreed to plead guilty to the single count of false pretenses. In return for his plea, prosecutors dismissed the using a computer to commit a crime count.

Prosecutor Deana Finnegan called Vroman’s charges a “senseless crime,” and his actions basically “ripped off” Security Credit Union. She did not elaborate further on how Vroman had done so.

“It defies comprehension. This is a man that has a decent job and works every day and decides it’s easier to rip off the bank,” Finnegan said. “I would ask the court to fashion a sentence that includes a term of incarceration and restitution.”

Defense attorney Jacob Raleigh said Vroman admitted a mistake, and didn’t think about the consequences of his actions.

“These last few months, he’s been extremely regretful, and he accepts that he must be punished for this crime,” Raleigh said. “Perhaps more importantly, he’s dedicated to pay restitution and make the victim whole.”

Before sentencing, Vroman apologized and asked the court to take into account the fact he has a young child.

“I was being stupid and had a lot of problems going on,” Vroman said. “I do have joint custody of my son, who is 8 years old. My ex left me with all kinds of bills and that’s the only reason I did it. I regret every minute of it.”

“Why would you bring that up? You weren’t thinking about your son when you stole the money, were you?” Stewart said. “The guidelines for this level of felony is almost offensive to me.”

Stewart called sentencing guidelines of zero to three months “inadequate,” and imposed the longer term.

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