A Warrenton, MO, woman who pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from senior citizens and defrauding her boss was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution.
A former Warrenton mobile home park manager will spend the next five years on probation and pay more than $117,000 in restitution after she pleaded guilty to stealing from senior citizens.
The sentence was issued during a Jan. 4 hearing. The charges were filed in 2021.
Shannon M. Sonnenschein, who managed Lakeview Estates near Warrenton, pleaded guilty to eight charges of stealing more than $750, two counts of forgery, one count of attempted forgery, and one count of financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled person.
From information published at the time the charges were filed, Sonnenschein acted as an intermediary to help residents buy and sell trailer homes. The charges allege that Sonnenschein kept a significant portion of the money in these property exchanges meant for the sellers or the property owner, Moore Enterprises. Sonnenschein allegedly deposited the illicit money using her grandmother’s bank account.
The stealing and forgery counts each carries a jail sentence of seven years, the attempted forgery count carries a sentence of four years, and the financial exploitation count carries a sentence of 10 years.
Those sentences were suspended, though, by Chief Judge Jason Lamb. Interim Warren County Prosecuting Attorney Keith Freie declined to comment after the sentencing.
“I’m glad the case finally is adjudicated,” Warren County Sheriff Kevin Harrison said. “And I am very thankful that the court is making it a priority to try to collect as much restitution as they can.”
But Harrison and several of Sonnenschein’s victims were disappointed that she will not serve any time behind bars. Some of those read victim impact statements during the hearing.
“There was a considerable showing at court last week of residents from Lakeview that expressed their views to the court and how they thought she should be locked up,” Harrison said. “So I think there’s a component of the residents and the victims that on one hand they’re glad that she was convicted, she’s going to have to pay money back. But I think the consensus is she got off pretty easy for what she did.”
Harrison said he understood why the judge chose to sentence Sonnenschein to probation rather than giving her any time in prison, but he said he had hoped she would at least get a “shock” jail sentence.
“You’ve got to be careful on a case like this because while somebody’s locked up, they’re not making any restitution,” he said. “So they have to be out and they have to be working to pay the money back. So there is a trade off. But a lot of times, they set these people down for 30 days, 60 days, 90, 120 days to show you what prison or jail is like. This is where you’re going to end up if you don’t take your probation serious or if you don’t follow through with the terms of your restitution.”
Sheriff Harrison also had a message for Sonnenschein as she begins her five years on probation.
“I hope she realized what could have happened in this case and that she takes advantage of being given that opportunity and that she makes good to the victims because she really escaped a prison sentence and restitution and the probation,” he said. “So I hope she takes that serious and upholds making it right to these victims.”
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 email@example.com