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Wed, Nov. 20

Court rejects Elise Townsend's request to get out of prison during appeal

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>
Yavapai County Sheriff's Office deputies help Elise Townsend into a transfer vehicle after her probation violation hearing at the Yavapai County Courthouse June 3.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br> Yavapai County Sheriff's Office deputies help Elise Townsend into a transfer vehicle after her probation violation hearing at the Yavapai County Courthouse June 3.

The Arizona Court of Appeals has rejected Elise Townsend's request to get out of prison on bail while she appeals her 3.5-year sentence for felony theft.

The court said someone sentenced to prison for a felony cannot get out on bail unless confinement endangers his or her life.

Townsend was an up-and-coming Prescott subdivision developer running for the state Senate until her construction businesses started losing money about five years ago.

Prosecutors said she took $180,000 out of one of her companies' bank accounts despite knowing it would cause numerous checks to subcontractors to bounce. Townsend then shut down the company.

She pleaded guilty to theft last October.

One Superior Court judge gave Townsend time to try to pay $275,717 in restitution to her victims before facing as many as 3.5 years in jail.

But Judge Celé Hancock concluded in June that Townsend wasn't trying hard enough to pay the money back, and she sentenced Townsend to the full 3.5-year prison term.

While Townsend filed an appeal of the sentence, it will be at least a month before she files a brief explaining why she thinks the sentence is unfair.

Townsend now has two new attorneys, Larry Hammond of Phoenix and John Sears of Prescott. Her former attorney asked to be relieved of his duties and the court granted his request.

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