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Woman sent to prison for aiding in robbery

By Janice Gregorson

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Four years after helping someone else take a man from his home, rob him and leave him naked in a cornfield, a Rochester woman is headed to prison.

Olmsted District Judge Debra Jacobson called Heidi Ann Schei’s actions "vindictive" and "cold in nature" during a sentencing hearing Thursday. She said there were no grounds to depart from state sentencing guidelines and sentenced Schei to 21 months in prison.

Jacobson denied a defense motion to put Schei on probation for seven years and serve local jail time.

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The case has taken four years to work its way through the criminal justice system, but prosecutor Lawrence Clark said the case "will have a dramatic effect on the victim for years to come."

Schei, 30, and Jason Timothy Ferderer, 33, of Rochester, faced a string of charges ranging from kidnapping to aggravated robbery, assault and false imprisonment. In January, Schei pleaded guilty to aiding in false imprisonment and aiding in second-degree assault. Ferderer reached the same plea agreement and also pleaded guilty to making terroristic threats. All of the charges are felonies. The remaining charges were dismissed. Ferderer will be sentenced next month.

Authorities said Schei and Ferderer went to the house of the victim — described as Schei’s former boyfriend — the evening of Oct. 24, 2004, forced him into a pickup at knifepoint, assaulted him, took his wallet and forced him to give them his PIN to withdraw money from his bank account. The complaint said they left him naked, except for socks, in a cornfield in rural Elgin. He walked to a farm, and the owners called 911.

Defense attorney Gary Gittus told the judge that Schei didn’t plan the crime and doesn’t have a history of violence.

"It simply was something she did in an impulsive manner," he said.

He read a statement from Schei apologizing for what happened. She said she didn’t realize how this would affect the victim.

"If I could go back, I would not have done any of those things," the statement said. "I would hope one day he would forgive me."

Clark called it a "very vindictive, vengeful act motivated by Schei’s prior relationship with the victim." He said the victim continually looks over his shoulder in fear of retaliation. "This will live with him for many years," Clark said. Clark is a prosecutor in Dakota County and handled the case for Olmsted County.

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Schei also was ordered to pay a $50 fine and be jointly responsible for $631 in restitution.

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