Jodi LaClair appears in Windham Superior Court: Criminal Division, on Friday morning. (Kayla Rice/Reformer)
Jodi LaClair appears in Windham Superior Court: Criminal Division, on Friday morning. (Kayla Rice/Reformer)
BRATTLEBORO -- As it turns out, Jodi LaClaire still owes the state of Vermont some time behind bars.

When LaClaire was sentenced last week for financially exploiting an elderly Brattleboro woman in 2009, there was confusion as to whether she needed to report to prison given her time already served.

However, subsequent calculations showed that LaClaire must spend another 34 days in prison. She reported to Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington on Monday.

"She got herself up there, and she will serve the remaining days," defense attorney Rick Ammons said.

"That's been her performance throughout this case, which is to do exactly as she is told," Ammons added. "There have been no violations of conditions of release."

LaClaire had been accused of murdering 83-year-old Nita Lowery by giving the elderly woman a fatal dose of insulin that plunged her into a hypoglycemic coma in March 2009.

LaClaire had been a nursing assistant at Brattleboro's Thompson House care home, where Lowery resided.

A jury in September acquitted LaClaire, 39, of Bennington, N.H., of murder and abuse of a vulnerable adult. But the same jury convicted LaClaire of seven financial-exploitation counts, finding that LaClaire took Lowery's credit card and withdrew more than $3,000 at ATMs in Brattleboro and Keene, N.H.

LaClaire had been incarcerated from January 2012, when she was charged with murder, through early December, when her bail was reduced due to her acquittal on the state's most-serious charges.

On Friday in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division, Judge David Suntag sentenced LaClaire to five to 10 years in prison for the thefts. That sentence is suspended in favor of probation, aside from two years that LaClaire was ordered to serve.

The question was whether her time already served would satisfy that sentence. Ammons said his client reported directly to the Brattleboro Probation and Parole office following sentencing, and officials told her to go home pending completion of a sentencing calculation.

"They notified her on Monday that she owed 34 days," Ammons said.

He said LaClaire has been a "model prisoner" throughout her time behind bars.

While prosecutors from the state attorney general's office had asked for a sentence of 21 to 63 years in prison, Ammons said research shows that the sentence LaClaire actually received was the harshest that has been imposed in Vermont under the relatively new financial-exploitation statute.

"Going back (to prison) for the month is something that's a lot easier to get her head around than the sentence the state was looking for," Ammons said.

There remains the possibility that Ammons and fellow defense attorney Dan Sedon could appeal LaClaire's financial-exploitation convictions to the Vermont Supreme Court.

LaClaire has 30 days from sentencing to decide whether or not to pursue such an appeal.

"There are a number of issues that were raised for which there could be appeals filed," Ammons said.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.