Former Alpha clerk sentenced to jail term
By NIKKI YOUNK
CRYSTAL FALLS – A former Alpha clerk who took money from the village through forged checks has been sentenced to serve five months in jail.
Nicholas John Rickman, 34, of Alpha also must serve three years of probation and pay $6,987.36 in restitution.
Rickman was sentenced on three felony counts of attempted forgery. Additional charges of uttering and publishing and embezzlement were dropped during a plea deal last month.
During the sentencing hearing Monday in Iron County Trial Court, Rickman’s attorney Geoffrey Lawrence focused on his client’s limited criminal history and remorse for his actions.
“He was caught in an economic situation and succumbed to temptation,” said Lawrence.
Rickman moved to Alpha from Oregon in September 2011. The village of Alpha hired Rickman to fill its vacant clerk position in February 2012.
After suspecting some suspicious activity, village officials obtained bank statements and discovered that several checks made out to Rickman contained their forged signatures.
The checks dated from March 1, 2012 to May 29, 2012.
Lawrence said that a jail sentence of three months would be appropriate.
Iron County Prosecutor Melissa Powell was more skeptical of the situation.
“No doubt he is remorseful, but a lot of people are remorseful once they’re caught,” she said.
Powell pointed out that Rickman took money from the village of Alpha on 13 different occasions and has “past instances of similar behavior.”
When given a chance to speak in court, Rickman apologized for his actions.
“I always want to make myself have a good life and I took advantage of that,” he said. “I want to get back to gaining all the trust from the people I’ve hurt.”
Judge C. Joseph Schwedler agreed with Powell that Rickman committed the same crime over and over again.
“We’re not talking about a single crime,” he said. “We’re talking about several conscious decisions by Mr. Rickman to steal money.”
Judge Schwedler decided to sentence Rickman to five months in jail, which was within the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) sentencing guidelines of zero to nine months, but lower than the MDOC recommendation of six months.
Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.