Dustin Jungvirt, appealed the sentence imposed after his admission of guilty to insurance fraud, and argued that the district court did not properly consider which penalty option would best rehabilitate him. IN State Of Iowa vs. Dustin Jungvirt, Nr. 21-1130, Iowa Court of Appeals (April 13, 2022) resolved the Iowa Court of Appeals dispute.
The state accused Jungvirt of insurance fraud and claimed that he had submitted false claims to his insurance company. Jungvirt was alleged to have committed the crime under probation for the danger of children who caused bodily harm. The state later added a fee for fraudulent practices. After Jungvirt’s arrest, he was released to the Iowa Department of Corrections for surveillance.
In May 2020, Jungvirt was arrested for assault when he showed a dangerous weapon. Due to the arrest, the court canceled Jungvirt’s preliminary investigation. Jungvirt entered into an agreement on September 11 and admitted breach of probation and pleaded guilty to insurance fraud. He has also pleaded guilty to four counts of forgery in a separate case. As part of the basic agreement, the state agreed to recommend Jungvirt for a treatment facility if Jungvirt was considered suitable for placement in the facility. If Jungvirt was denied a place to live, the state could recommend any legal ruling.
The court received a presentation report (PSI) which recommended probation and placement in a penitentiary in Davenport (RCF).
Jungvirt did not appear for sentencing, which resulted in the court issuing a court order for his arrest. He was not arrested until May 2021. Due to his deviation, the RCF would not approve him for placement.
Jungvirt, after being prosecuted for a new crime and returning to court, expressed chutzpah, asked for probation, and emphasized as mitigating factors his desire to meet with the family, his limited criminal history, mental health and substance abuse problems, and progress he made toward his education. The state called on the court to impose a prison sentence.
The court sentenced Jungvirt to five years in prison for insurance fraud, in order to run to two years in prison for Jungvirt’s forgery.
Jungvirt claimed that the district court abused its space for discretion when it sentenced him to a prison sentence rather than probation. He ignored the reasoning of the sentencing court, which during the trial explained its reasoning as follows:
In any case, my duty under the law is to review what is available to me in terms of community resources and to decide what a suitable rehabilitation plan would be for you, but to always remember first and foremost that the public must be protected.
When I do that, I look at the seriousness of the crimes, what effect the crimes have on members of society, your willingness to accept change and treatment and what is available in society to help you in this process.
The first thing that strikes me when I look at the file is that you had an agreement on probation. You were at RCF and something happened and you were looking to guarantee, then, from October 22 to May 30. You knew at that time that you were guilty. You knew you had to take care of these matters and you made no effort to do so, which tells me that you escaped your responsibility and your responsibilities for the crimes you committed.
It’s not completely incompatible with your criminal history. Although these allegations are more serious than you may have been before, you have a history of having failed and a history of violating probation conditions.
I believe it is to alleviate any substance abuse or mental health problems you have.
What also worries me is that when you look at the file, case number 312, you were on probation with a penalty date of July 19, 2018, and then comes the insurance fraud case that you are here today that happened after that, and it appears while you was on trial. . . .
And then, while you’re waiting for a pre-trial release on that issue, you bring up all the allegations of forgery that you made in 505.
So every time you committed a crime, before you solved it, while you were still on some form of probation, you committed another crime. For me, it justifies imprisonment.
The Court of Appeal concluded, prior to the clear and logical statement of the sentencing court, that it correctly considered the defendant’s options for reform, criminal history, mitigating factors such as mental health and substance abuse, the resources the defendant had access to, the effect Jungvirt’s crime had on society, and what punishment would best protect the public. In particular, the court emphasized Jungvirt’s consistent pattern of engaging in illegal activities under probation or pre-trial release. The court found that imprisonment was necessary.
A district court is not bound by the recommendations of a PSI. Due to its consideration of relevant factors, the total lack of respect for the judiciary, the criminal acts under probation, it became clear that the district court did not abuse its discretion regarding Jungvirt’s punishment. Consequently, the Court upheld the judgment.
It’s time for trial and appellate courts to stop defaming insurance fraud offenders with probation and halfway homes and deter the crime with actual jail time. The fact that Dustin Jungvirt had the unrepentant chutzpah, on such a long line of criminal behavior, to claim that the court wrongly sentenced him to prison was a fantastic waste of time for two courts and should have been sentenced with more than confirming the verdict and the addition of severe sanctions.
(c) 2022 Barry Zalma & ClaimSchool, Inc.
Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his internship to the position of insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as a lawyer for insurance coverage and claims management and more than 54 years in the insurance industry. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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