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Judge honors plea agreement for Colfax woman guilty of hit and run and orders $706 in restitution

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  —  A Dunn County judge has honored a plea agreement and has ordered a Colfax woman to pay $706.20 in restitution related to a hit-and-run accident last December involving the owner of Mom’s Restaurant and Pub.

Jami A. Golden, 38, along with her attorney, Kerry Kelm, appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court before Judge Rod Smeltzer October 17 for a restitution hearing.

Judge Smeltzer accepted a plea deal for Golden during a court hearing in May and found her guilty of an amended felony count of second degree recklessly endangering safety for the hit-and-run accident the morning of December 9 that left Linda Salazar, owner of Mom’s Restaurant and Pub, with ten broken ribs, a concussion, a broken arm, and a broken leg, ankle, and pelvis as well as internal injuries.

Golden originally was charged with two felony counts of hit and run involving great bodily harm and reckless driving causing great bodily harm.

Golden also was issued traffic citations for operating a vehicle without insurance; failure to notify police of an accident; and obstructed driver’s vision front view (frost on the windshield).

Judge Smeltzer dismissed the count of hit and run involving great bodily harm and also dismissed the traffic citations as part of the plea deal, withheld sentencing, and as a condition of the five years of probation, imposed five months of jail time.

Judge Smeltzer also ordered Golden to pay restitution to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance.

As of the May 2 court hearing, the amount for restitution was $3,962.43, although the amount was expected to be more after additional medical costs were finalized.

Salazar was hospitalized in intensive care for about three weeks in Eau Claire and then spent another three months at Mayo-Bloomer.

At the October 17 court hearing, Dunn County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Maki said the medical expenses not covered by insurance were $5,953.12 and lost wages amounted to $10,572.76.

At a restitution hearing in August, Kelm said she had “inherited” the case from attorney Christopher Bub and that she was experiencing difficulty trying to figure out what was paid and what was a carry-over of out-of-pocket expenses.

Although the restitution hearing had been set for months by the time of the August hearing, Kelm said she had received another packet of information that day from the district attorney’s office regarding lost wages.

The plea agreement specified Golden would only pay for Salazar’s out-of-pocket medical expenses and no other amounts, including crime-victim compensation, Kelm said at the August hearing.

Kelm produced several documents related to the plea agreement including a case offer dated March 2, 2017, stating restitution would be in the amount not covered by insurance and an e-mail from Bub to Maki dated March 8 confirming that Golden would accept the plea deal offered, that Golden would pay out-of-pocket costs and that the state would not seek restitution for any other costs.

Maki’s reply to the March 8 confirmation e-mail was “Okay. Thanks,” Kelm said.

The plea agreement specified restitution was to be paid on expenses not covered by any other source, Kelm said.

The $706.20 was a claim from Patti Houser, Salazar’s daughter, for mileage for driving Salazar to medical appointments.

Salazar also received $10,000 from a Go Fund Me account set up for her, Kelm said.

Restitution in a criminal proceeding involves the attorney for the defendant and the prosecutor negotiating and then presenting the agreement to the court, Judge Smeltzer said.

The Go Fund Me account and the crime-victim compensation covered the other expenses, he said.

In many plea agreements, a victim is not compensated to this degree, Judge Smeltzer said.

Judge Smeltzer ordered $706.20 in restitution be paid to Houser for mileage and that it be paid prior to the payment of any other court costs or fines.

During the May 2 sentencing and plea hearing, Judge Smeltzer ordered Golden to pay $268 in court costs and a $250 DNA surcharge.

As of the October 17 hearing, Golden had paid $90 and still owed $443 on the court costs and DNA surcharge.

Salazar was walking to the restaurant she operates with family members at around 5:30 a.m. December 9, 2016, and was struck by Golden as Salazar crossed Main Street in Colfax at Fifth Avenue near Dollar General.

According to the complaint, Golden thought she had hit an animal, stopped briefly, and then drove to work. Once she arrived at her place of employment, she became concerned she had hit a person and returned to Colfax.

Golden’s sentence of five months in the county jail is scheduled to begin November 1.