Two bridal shop owners were sentenced to probation for stealing gift cards from several summer weddings in Lewiston.

Nicole Cady and Desarae Starnes jointly own Downtown Chic, a Main Street business where they rent dresses and plan weddings. The women also manage the Lewis & Clark Hotel as a wedding venue. The bridal shop owners stole gift cards from three summer weddings in 2018 and cashed the cards, in one case the evening of a wedding.

Nez Perce County Magistrate Judge Karin Seubert on Tuesday sentenced Starnes and Cady each to 30 days in jail with 25 days suspended and 60 hours of community service in lieu of any jail time. Each woman was fined $293.50 and ordered to pay $25 apiece to two of the couples and $50 to a third couple.

Both women were ordered to serve as much as one year of probation. Cady was granted a withheld judgment, meaning if she completes probation the charges could be dismissed. Starnes was not eligible for a withheld judgment.

Seubert accepted a binding plea agreement that required no jail time, saying the women had a limited criminal history and the sentence was an appropriate resolution.

No one witnessed the two women steal any of the items, but surveillance and receipts at Shopko and Home Depot show the two cashed at least two gift cards.

Cady and Starnes were initially each charged with felonies for the thefts. During a preliminary hearing, the attorneys representing the women successfully argued that gift cards are not included in the statute that amounts to felony conduct for stealing a financial transaction card. Since a gift card has no identifying information and it is not attached to a bank account, it is not considered a felony to steal one, according to Idaho Code. The charges were reduced to misdemeanors, and both women pleaded guilty.

Amy North, who first reported stolen gift cards in June, spoke at the sentencing Tuesday and said she at first didn’t suspect Cady or Starnes of the thefts. Instead, North said she and her now husband suspected friends or family, which caused frustration over what was supposed to be a happy moment. North said she recommended Cady and Starnes to some of her friends to plan weddings before she learned they stole from her. She previously testified she paid the women $1,800 to decorate the Lewis & Clark Hotel and watch over the gifts.

Ronald Stanley, who was married in July, also spoke and said though the monetary value stolen from him and his wife was small, the violation of trust was immeasurable. Stanley previously testified he paid Starnes and Cady $2,300 to decorate the hotel and organize his wedding.

“We had to go to the police station to give a statement when we should have been going on our honeymoon,” Stanley said. “This is going to be a moment in our lives we never forget; not only the good things, but the bad things, make it unforgettable.”

Neither Cady nor Starnes chose to speak at their jointly held sentencing, and neither expressed any discernible emotion at the hearing. Neither woman served any time in jail, as they were issued criminal summons when they were first charged.

Holm may be contacted at (208) 848-2275 or tholm@lmtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomHolm4.

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