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Court Clerk Steals $500K From Fine And Ticket Payments
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After receiving four counts of first-degree theft in October, Iowa judge sentences Tina Marlene Zieser, 46, to 10-years in prison for her crime. She had been charged with stealing over $500K from the court office that she worked for. What likely started as a few dollars here and there became easier and easier as time went on.

In addition to her prison stint, Zieser must pay the court restitution for the fine and ticket payments she stole over the course of three years, totaling over $500,000. She is also being held responsible for nearly $58,000 of audit costs paid by the court to uncover her wrongdoing.

To cover her crime, Zieser entered bookkeeping accounts that stated the payment of the fine or ticket was worked off with community service. This lie allowed her to keep the money for herself instead of going to the Black Hawk County clerk’s office.


Former colleagues of Zieser testified against her after each of them fell under suspicion during the investigation. One colleague underwent an intense audit of her personal finances, creating chaos in her life as she had to explain every penny she spent. Zeiser pointed her finger at the other colleague because she had paid off her student and car loan.

The public defender blamed Zieser’s crimes on her gambling addiction. However, despite the public defender’s attempt, Zieser continued to proclaim that she had been wrongly convicted of the crime.  She tried to convince the judge to allow her to have probation in order to work, saying that the imprisonment would be difficult on her mother, husband and children.

It’s not foreseeable how she will have the ability to pay back all of the money that she stole. Most people work several years to make that kind of money in total income. It’s likely that after she gets released from prison she’ll have the opportunity to land a $500K a year job. Instead, she will likely be indebted to the court system for the remainder of her life, and perhaps even longer.

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Not only does she have to carry this burden, but it has been placed on her family and her children for years to come. As she is locked away, her children will undoubtedly go through many milestones in life, all without the presence of a mother. It’s a sad case. Hopefully she will have plenty of time to think about what she has done during her decade in prison.


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