Former Warren County Assessor Wendy Nordwald Kozma has a sentencing hearing before an Osage County, Missouri, judge that could send her back to jail for failing to pay restitution.
Former Warren County Assessor Wendy (Nordwald) Kozma will be back in court this week to learn whether she will be sent back to jail for failing to pay her restitution.
Osage County Judge Sonya Brandt is expected to announce her decision at 8:45 a.m. Oct. 6, three weeks after a Sept. 15 hearing in which it was stated that the former county official had paid less than $2,000 of the more than $213,000 she owes in restitution.
Kozma pleaded guilty to 15 charges of felony stealing in August 2022. As part of her plea agreement, she served four months in prison and agreed to pay back $213,832.14 in restitution in lieu of a 10-year prison sentence.
Warren County Prosecuting Attorney Kelly King said during the hearing that Kozma would have needed to pay $3,563.87 a month to fully pay the restitution before her probation ended.
But as of the Sept. 15 hearing, Kozma had paid just $1,968.82 in total restitution since being released from jail in December 2022. Most of that was also paid after King filed a motion in April to revoke Kozma’s probation.
Kozma testified in September that she believed she was only required to pay what she could afford because she never signed a repayment plan.
“The order says just to make a payment,” she said while on the stand.
Kozma claimed she had no assets and that health issues were preventing her from securing a job, though one of the jobs she had applied for was as a financial director for Norwegian Cruise Lines.
She also said she had applied for “things that are beneath my previous jobs.”
King told the judge that indicated Kozma had no intention of paying the restitution.
“She doesn’t want to make more payments,” King said. “She’s made no effort … and it’s not until the state files the motion to revoke that she hires a lawyer and starts making some payments.”
King used her closing argument to ask the judge to revoke Kozma’s probation.
But Kozma’s attorney, Timothy Lohmar, of O’Fallon, reminded the judge that Kozma was given probation so she could make the restitution payments.
“If the sentence is executed and probation is revoked, then there will be zero restitution payments that she’s able to make,” Lohmar said.
The September hearing followed a hearing in June when Kozma appeared without an attorney, saying she was unable to find anyone to represent her. She hired Lohmar in July, according to court documents.
During her testimony on Sept. 15, Kozma said she did not consider asking for a public defender.
About the author: Jason Koch is the editor of The Warren County Record, and covers local news and government for the newspaper. He has won multiple awards from both the Indiana and Illinois APME and from the Illinois Press Association. He can be reached at 636-456-6397 or at firstname.lastname@example.org