Karen Holzworth sentenced to nine months

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Kyle Schmidt/ Oak Leaf

Karen Holzworth being comforted as she cries during her sentencing.

Deanna Hettinger, Staff Writer

The wife of former Santa Rosa Junior College police officer Jeffrey Holzworth received a nine-month jail term with three years probation April 9 for her role as accessory to her husband’s grand theft charges of stealing $286,000 from campus parking meters.

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Gary A. Medvigy said the evidence was clear that at some point she had known about her husband’s involvement and that her explanations were not forthright.

“I believe she perjured herself in court,” Medvigy said.

The Sonoma County Probation Department had recommended a six-month county jail term for Karen Holzworth, but because she was not able to speak directly to the probation department, Medvigy allowed her to address the court.

In tears on and off throughout the sentencing, Karen Holzworth, 51, tried to explain what she would have done differently. With her head down, she told the court that for 29 months, since the beginning, she cried every day, beat herself up, embarrassed her family and wanted to start over.

Medvigy said it was the first time he ever saw any remorse and it was clear Karen Holzworth knowingly participated in a scheme by depositing large sums of stolen cash in family bank accounts. Her testimony that she won the money playing bingo had no merit with the video evidence showing Holzworth depositing bags of coins in the bank.

Karen Holzworth’s best friend, Ingridt Linde, who testified at her trial found the sentencing to be “absolutely ridiculous.”

Linde said, “It was not fair because she stayed for her kids even after she had at one time questioned Jeff about the bag of money, in which he claimed it was going back to his office. Karen had no knowledge.”

Deputy District Attorney Amy Ariyoshi, who asked the judge for a 16-month prison sentence, said Karen Holzworth was remorseful for what she didn’t do — arguing that she was not convicted by the jury for not turning Jeff in, but because she had been directly involved.

The thefts had occurred repeatedly for at least seven years. Holzworth “was not convicted for her actions, but rather her conduct and that the jury did not find her testimony to be believable. She knowingly assisted with intent,” Ariyoshi said.

Karen Holzworth’s brother, Mark Virgil Chole, who at one time borrowed a significant amount of money from her and testified in her trial, said she was “guilty by association” and that it was all based on speculation. There were a lot of factors to consider – it was not a cut and dry case.

He added that the DA made an example of Karen Holzworth making it seem like she was the ring leader. “Nobody got hurt. It wasn’t a Ponzi scheme,” Chole said.

Defense attorney George Boisseau argued for Holzworth’s character outside the charges by pointing out her lack of criminal history, and that she was working three jobs to help her daughter through college.

Boisseau said her lifestyle didn’t reflect any changes from the theft and if she could do it over again she would have taken action. “The focus should remain on Jeffrey Holzworth instead, not losing sight of the offender,” Boisseau said.

After 28 years as a police officer, Jeffrey Holzworth is serving a four-year prison sentence for his involvement in the embezzlement.

Boisseau said his client made a grievous mistake and people who know her will vouch for her character. He added that she will comply with everything and wanted probation so she can continue to be a productive member of society.

Ariyoshi said his argument was weak and that the people had wanted state prison.

The judge granted Boisseau’s request to give Holzworth a week to get her affairs in order.

Ingridt Linde and Mark Chole outside the courtroom after the sentencing.
Kyle Schmidt/ Oak Leaf
Ingridt Linde and Mark Chole outside the courtroom after the sentencing.