Plea withdrawn by woman facing prison

Becky Vargo • May 17, 2017 at 8:00 AM

A Grand Haven woman charged with stealing from her boyfriend’s mother to feed her alleged drug habit was allowed to withdraw her guilty plea Monday in Ottawa County Circuit Court.

Heidi Lynn Veihl, 33, was jailed on $45,000 bond after being charged with two separate counts of home invasion from incidents in February and March in the city of Grand Haven.

Victims Sandra Katt and Mindy Ferguson said they lost family heirlooms and gifts that they hadn’t even had a chance to use.

Katt said items included a cross her mother wore at her first communion in 1925 and several other necklaces. 

Ferguson, whose boyfriend was Veihl’s neighbor, said a Coach purse valued at $160, a watch and a new laptop computer were taken.

Police discovered some of the items at local pawnshops, but none of it has been returned to the owners — now because of a possible trial.

Veihl is also charged as a habitual offender, based on breaking and entering, and larceny convictions from 2005, for which she spent time in prison.

Because the habitual offender status could cause the judge to extend Veihl’s jail time to prison, attorney Michael Zitta asked for a week’s postponement of the scheduled sentencing on May 8.

On Monday, Veihl withdrew her plea based on the fact that Judge Karen Miedema said she might not go along with the prosecutor’s recommendation of probation and in-patient drug treatment, Zitta said. 

Because the plea has been withdrawn, a trial date will now be set.

Katt gave a statement during the May 8 hearing, noting that the situation has torn her family apart.

“My husband and I are very upset because we had treated Heidi as part of our family, welcomed her into our home and celebrated holidays together,” she said. “However, we all watched her life unravel over the past several years. Our son thought he could help her overcome her addiction, but his good intentions and that of her family only enabled her to further destruct.”

Ferguson also noted that Veihl was a nice person when she was sober, but that she’s come to see a different side of the defendant since the home invasion incident.

She asked that Veihl get treatment for her addiction and that she not be allowed contact with Ferguson, her boyfriend or her friend who was helping dog sit at the time of the home invasion.

Katt asked the judge to sentence Veihl to as much prison time as possible.

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