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Ten years for filmmaker Runge

May 17, 2011

Fresh from the Des Moines Register:

A Polk County judge today sentenced Wendy Weiner Runge to 10 years in prison for her role in defrauding film tax incentives from the state.

Runge, of Minnesota, is expected to serve slightly less than five years for fraud.

Ms. Runge pleaded guilty to a charge that she defrauded the state to obtain tax credits to sell for cash. Her plea deal was reached in the middle of her trial on five felony counts.

Two of her partners, who had pleaded guilty in exchange for cooperation with prosecutors, received probation. After her guilty plea, Ms. Runge claimed on her since-removed blog that she was "victorious." That must make the ones who got probation absolutely triumphant.

No word on how the sentence will affect her pending lawsuit against the state on grounds that state employees defamed her. If what they said she did worse than what she was convicted of, it must be really something.

The trial of Tom Wheeler, former film office head and lead scapegoat, is scheduled to begin in August. Charges are pending against at least two other filmmakers.

UPDATE, 5/18:

The long-form Des Moines Register article adds some details:

Judge Douglas Staskal criticized Runge, the head of Polynation Pictures, for attacking prosecutors and judges in public statements she has made and blaming her plight on anti-Semitism and "some sort of political conspiracy."

Staskal said sentencing Runge to 10 years was a difficult decision because she had no prior criminal history, but he could not ignore the "complete arrogant and defiant" way in which she had denied responsibility for her crime.

As much fun as it is to blog, it seems that criminal defendants should resist the urge. The Register notes:

And in her ongoing blog about the case against her, she has repeatedly denied doing anything criminal and professed to be a victim of malicious prosecution and misconduct by state officials.

The blog has since been taken down, but not before she declared herself "victorious" following her guilty plea.

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Maybe she will get a cell with the Tax Lady!

Maybe Tax Lady can help her settle her sentence...

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