SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — An Idaho college’s former financial aid director has been sentenced to 107 days in jail for charges related to offering students financial aid in exchange for sex.
District Judge Lansing Haynes also gave Joseph Bekken, 37, three years of probation and a $10,000 fine. He will be allowed to work during his jail term, returning to jail each night, reports The Spokesman-Review (http://bit.ly/1kmqlH9 ).
“I took my power and I used it for my own selfish gain, and I’m sorry,” Bekken told the judge during a tearful statement in which he apologized to taxpayers, the college, his ex-wife and their four young children.
Bekken pleaded guilty to attempted misuse of public funds and using a computer in a scheme to defraud on Aug. 20.
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Police said Bekken advertised on Craigslist for several semesters while working for Northern Idaho College, saying he would provide scholarship money in exchange for sex. They say he agreed to meet a female student at a Coeur d’Alene apartment complex on Feb. 2.
But it turned out to be an undercover sting that authorities set up by creating a fake student account and then responding to Bekken’s advertisement.
Bekken’s attorney, Sean Walsh, asked the judge not to send his client to prison. He said Bekken is remorseful and ashamed.
“The way he responded to this is exactly the way that a good man would respond to this,” Walsh after the sentencing. “He completely confessed to his friends, his family, his neighbors, his co-workers, to law enforcement. And he’s done everything he can to set this right.”
Kootenai County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jed Whitaker disagreed. He argued that Bekken should serve a five-year prison sentence and pay a $20,000 fine because he took money from the public and used it for illegal purposes.
Bekken attempted the sex-for-scholarship-money solicitation 20 times over the course of a year and paid a 24-year-old woman $2,400 for photos of a sexual nature, according to Whitaker.
“This man stole money from the public and I believe he did it in a predatory manner,” said Whitaker. “The trail of destruction he left behind because of his actions is incredible.”
Bekken addressed his ex-wife during his statement.
“I lied to you, I deceived you and I manipulated you. Because of my actions you now face financial uncertainty,” he told her. “I am sorry I tore everything away from you, sorry I broke our happy life.”
He also told the court he has been in “intense therapy” for sex addiction since his arrest.
Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com