September 1, 2014

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Ex-clerk receives a year in prison for stolen fines

Sierra Dozier

Sierra Dozier

A former Lorain Municipal Court deputy clerk was sentenced Friday to one year in prison and ordered to repay the court system $31,000 she stole while on the job.

Sierra Dozier, 26, will also be under federal supervision for three years after her release from custody, according to U.S. Attorney for Northern Ohio Steven Dettelbach’s office.

Dozier pleaded guilty to a federal mail fraud charge in November but continues to face theft in office, theft and drug charges in Lorain County.

Although Dozier and her attorney had urged U.S. District Judge Patricia Ann Gaughn to spare her prison and instead place her on probation, federal prosecutors pushed for a prison sentence in the case. Dozier, they contended, undermined public faith in the justice system.

“Dozier secretly used her position of public trust to enrich herself,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon wrote in court documents filed last month. “She slowly, secretly stole money paid to the Lorain Municipal Court, and doctored court records to cover her tracks. The Lorain Municipal Court, law enforcement and the citizens of Lorain will feel the ripple effects from her crime for years to come.”

Dozier was arrested during a May 2013 raid on the Columbo Lane home in Lorain that she shared with her now-husband Julio Osorio. Lorain police found six pounds of marijuana and $862 in cash during their search of the house.

They also discovered Lorain Municipal Court documents, including traffic citations, checks payable to the court and clerk’s office envelopes.

Dozier later admitted to police and a representative from Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will’s office that she would steal from those who came to court to pay fines, court costs or bonds. When she received a check, according to an FBI affidavit detailing the conversation, Dozier would put the check in her drawer and then take out cash.

Sometimes she converted cash bonds to personal bonds and then stole the money that someone put up to get a defendant out of jail.

According to the FBI and prosecutors, she also altered court records to prevent defendants from losing their driver’s licenses or other repercussions so they wouldn’t notice their fines and costs hadn’t been paid.

Lorain police had to briefly suspend arresting people on Lorain Municipal Court warrants after Dozier’s arrest because of the problems she created, something Bacon noted. She also said the problem of collecting money owed to the court continues to be an issue.

“It is difficult to collect on outstanding fees and fines levied prior to Dozier’s termination, as people continue to report to the Court that they paid Dozier and they must be one of the unidentified victims of her scheme,” Bacon wrote. “At this point, the Court has little option but to trust those representations.”

Lorain Clerk of Courts Lori Maiorana, who fired Dozier last year, did not return a call seeking comment Friday.

In her own court filing, Dozier wrote that she had nothing to do with the drugs found in her home and that being arrested gave her a “sense of relief.”

“I worked there for seven years. I was never at peace with what I was doing,” Dozier wrote.
“Needless to say having your guilty conscience eating you alive was not enough to stop me so something had to give.”

Dozier also wrote that she was stealing between $200 and $300 a week from the court, which she used “for diners (sic) out and recreation outings mostly.”

But she also wrote that she took steps to make sure that the defendants she stole from weren’t negatively impacted.

“I had taken measures to make sure that the people wouldn’t incur legal consequences or penaltie(s) from my taking the money since they had actually paid their fines,” Dozier wrote.

Vicki Ward, Dozier’s attorney, did not return a call seeking comment Friday.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.

  • oldruss

    Let’s hope that the Lorain Municipal Court is more successful in collecting back what Dozier stole, than it was in keeping track of that money as it was being paid into the court in the first place. At least the city’s bonding company, (she WAS bonded, was she not?) should reimburse the city to the maximum amount of the coverage, and if that doesn’t cover the city’s losses in full, down to the last penny, then aggressively seek to collect the deficiency from Dozier using the theft in office and other charges to force restitution.

  • WTFnext

    She should have gotten way more than a year. No one is afraid to commit a crime any more. You just get a slap on the wrist. And anyone who believes she didn’t know about 6 pounds of marijuana or the fact that the man she was living with was dealing drugs, is an idiot.

  • Ex_Subscriber

    oldruss,
    The bonding company is really just an insurance company. If it has to pay off on the bond, IT will go after Dozier under the doctrine of subrogation in order to get its money back, not the city – that’s assuming that the city makes the claim with the bonding company. They don’t have to, just as you don’t have to get your auto insurance carrier to pay for collision damages, you can go directly to the at-fault party. In my opinion, it’ll be much cleaner for the city to make the claim against the bonding company and then let them collect from Dozier.
    I also agree with your statement that the Muni Court did a poor job of accounting for the incoming funds in the first place. Where were the checks and balances? In finance, usually two people at least need to balance an account and deposits before business is closed. Sloppy bookkeeping on Ms. Maiorana’s part in my opinion.
    And to WTF – they still have to try her on the drug charges. Hopefully they won’t let her plead out of those, but then again, this is Lorain County.

  • Sis Delish

    Essentially, was she not performing the same duties as a DUI/OVI Attorney??

  • GreatRedeemer

    I sure hope that the checks and balances will be implemented
    by Clerk of courts to prevent this kind of theft.

    The prosecutor is 100% right. When some of the court systems
    employees are criminals, it’s hard to have faith in the judicial system.

  • bdid.d

    Looks like it’s been a hard 26….

    • WTFnext

      See the resemblance??

      • bdid.d

        Haha! Nailed it!

      • Sue Lawson

        The Troll doll is much cuter…

  • bdid.d

    She should have invested in some botox for that forehead and spent a little less on that sad red wig… I hope they make her rock this walmart track suit everyday in jail!