A quirk in the way criminal court laws in North Dakota are written has resulted in two women who pled guilty to stealing from a Bismarck business serving short sentences and a relatively small fee.

Amanda Sapin and Faye Zempe pled guilty in Burleigh County court earlier this week to stealing $65,000 from Merle Norman, a cosmetic studio located in the Kirkwood Mall in Bismarck. Following their plea, both women will face short sentences. Sapin will serve three years of supervised probation after spending four days in jail. Zempe will serve a slightly longer sentence, which will include three years of probation after serving three months in prison and an additional three months of house arrest.

Despite pleading guilty, the two will only be required to split payment on a $500 restitution fee. How could that be?

Turns out the business had already received some of their money back already after filing and collecting on an insurance claim. With the way the law is written, the victim can't collect from both the insurance company and the those that committed the theft because that would result in them being paid a double claim. Zempel and Sapin's $500 restitution will essentially cover Merle Norman's insurance deductible.

Burleigh County State's Attorney Julie Lawyer told KX News that with the way is written, it essentially means the women can keep the money they stole.

That doesn't quite seem fair, but rest easy: while the business can't seek further restitution through criminal court, they are able to file another claim in civil court.

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