This year, a woman serving time in prison for ringleading a bail bond kickback scam at the county jail testified in a Macon armed robbery and murder trial, helping link a suspect to the crime.
Thursday, she asked a Bibb County Superior Court judge to reduce her sentence based on her cooperation.
Denise Krieger, 43, told of how she has tried to improve herself while in prison, taking parenting classes and working in an animal caretaker group. She’s studying to be a veterinary technician.
Prosecutor Myra Tisdale argued against Krieger’s sentence being reduced, saying Krieger is one of the top 10 “most manipulative” defendants she’s dealt with as a prosecutor.
In plea negotiations, Krieger was making plans for how to get herself out of “what she got herself into,” Tisdale said.
She said the sentence “is appropriate. It was negotiated. It’s what she agreed to.”
Krieger was sentenced in November to 20 years, 12 of them in prison.
The judge left the bench Thursday without issuing a ruling.
Krieger, 43, pleaded guilty to racketeering and violating the state’s Criminal Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act in November, admitting she created a log of customers’ credit card information while working for 1-800 Flowers. She and her co-conspirators used the data to apply money to inmates’ accounts at the Bibb County jail.
Inmates used the money to pay to use the phone, for commissary and care package items and for bonds to get out of jail. Once free, the inmates paid any amount refunded from their account balances to Krieger and other co-conspirators.
In February, Krieger testified at the trial for Paul Washington Jr., a man charged with murder in the Sept. 30, 2013, shooting death of his brother 19-year-old Darius Washington at the Scottish Inn on Macon’s Romeiser Drive. The men tried to rob a man who fatally shot Darius Washington.
“When people testify when they’re incarcerated, they put their lives at risk,” attorney Larry Fouche said, even if they do so seeking a benefit.
During Thursday’s hearing, Fouche said Krieger intercepted a letter at the jail that purportedly was written by Paul Washington. In it, he admitted to taking part in the robbery.
Jurors voted to convict Washington of armed robbery, but couldn’t agree on a verdict for the murder charge. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The judge declared a mistrial for the murder charge.
Krieger also cooperated in authorities’ investigation of her crimes, Fouche said. Charges still are pending against some of the people charged in the case.
“She will continue to cooperate,” he said.
Fouche said Krieger will be parole-eligible in 16 months without her sentence being changed. He asked the judge to consider several options for a new sentence, including one that would allow for her immediate release.
“I made a mistake, a big mistake and I take full responsibility for that,” Krieger said during the hearing. “I’m just asking for a chance.”
Having been behind bars for more than two years, Krieger said she’s been “jumped” and spent eight months in protective custody.
Krieger cried as she said she was incarcerated when her father died. Now, her mother is ill and she fears her mother will die before she’s released.
After testifying at Washington’s trial, Krieger said she was scared and received threats.
If the judge reduces her sentence, Krieger said she’s willing to pay restitution to her victims. Restitution wasn’t part of her sentence.
“They deserve to get paid back,” she said.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.