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APPEAL DENIED: Sentence Stands For Filmmaker

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The Iowa Court of Appeals has affirmed the sentencing of a Minnesota filmmaker who pleaded guilty to fraudulent practices.

Wendy Weiner Runge was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in connection with Iowa’s film tax credit scandal. She was the owner and operator of a film company that applied for tax credits from the Iowa Film Office in 2008.

She switched out one project worth $600,000 for another worth several million dollars after an Iowa Film Office deadline.  The Iowa Film Office was shut down in 2009 after an investigation into this case as well as other cases where filmmakers grossly exaggerated production costs in order to gain tax credits from the state.

Wiener Runge pleaded guilty to one count of fraudulent practices in February of 2011. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison and appealed the sentence to the district court. The appeal was denied.

Next, she appealed her sentence to the Iowa Court of Appeals. She claimed the judge improperly considered the issue of remorse in sentencing. She argued that pleading guilty, should have represented her remorse. Weiner Runge also claimed that statements she made on a blog before her plea deal should not have been considered in sentencing and it violated her right of free speech.

The court issued its ruling Wednesday, disagreeing with Weiner Runge and backing up the district judge’s sentencing order.