A convicted sex offender sentenced in April to treatment may be going to prison instead after a Franklin County judge found he already violated his probation.
Jeffery C. Sivonen, 46, the former operations director at Columbia Center mall, moved across the state to live with his brother in Forks within one week of his release from the Franklin County jail.
The problem is Sivonen did not report to his community corrections officer. He also didn’t notify the state Department of Corrections of his plans, so his living arrangements could be approved to make sure no children live there.
At a hearing this week, defense attorney Scott Johnson called the issue “a colossal waste of time” and objected to any attempts to lock up his client.
Johnson questioned if prosecutors now are having “some buyer’s remorse” for agreeing to a special sentence for Sivonen. He said Sivonen asked him when he needed to report, and Johnson said that he didn’t know but that the department would be contacting Sivonen.
Sivonen’s sentencing documents did not include the standard time period of 72 hours in which he had to report or make himself available to the department after his release from jail.
Deputy Prosecutor Dave Corkrum said that even absent that direction, Sivonen should have realized that the duty was on him to contact his probation officer. His sentence was a privilege, with the majority of time behind bars suspended, granted on the promise he would follow special conditions, Corkrum argued.
Superior Court Judge Cameron Mitchell agreed, saying he was very clear with Sivonen at the sentencing about all of the requirements.
“I’m hard pressed to believe that Mr. Sivonen did not know he’d have to report to a community corrections officer at least within a reasonable period of time,” Mitchell said.
He noted that Sivonen listed a Kennewick address on his court documents, so if he already knew at sentencing that he wanted to go somewhere else, he should have explained that.
The violation report by Community Corrections Officer Niki Bruner said that when Sivonen didn’t report to the state office, she sent a letter to an address listed for Sivonen in a court database. She later found it went to a personal mailbox rented out at a Kennewick store.
Then she tried to call the phone number Sivonen had given on his court documents. The number was disconnected.
She and another officer went to the address he had written on his sentencing documents and found he had not rented a room there for more than a year.
Mitchell found Sivonen committed two violations: failing to report or be available and failing to notify of a change of address so he could get prior approval.
Now Mitchell must decide the appropriate sanction for Sivonen, who has since moved back to the Tri-Cities.
Mitchell said he is inclined to revoke Sivonen’s special sentence and send him to prison, but wants to hear from the victim, who was in favor of intensive sex offender treatment. A hearing is scheduled for June 2.
On April 21, Sivonen received the special sentencing alternative for his guilty pleas to four felony sex crimes, including three counts of child rape.
The victim said she had begged Sivonen to stop the abuse, but he threatened that her family would suffer if she told anyone.
All but one year of his 81/2-year sentence was suspended on condition he undergo treatment and follow the rules. He served his time on jail work release at his job at the mall in Kennewick.
“I recall having a discussion with Mr. Sivonen that he needed to dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’ with regards to his compliance with this (special sentence), and within days he was not doing those things,” Mitchell said.
Johnson argued he could have told the state Sivonen’s whereabouts if the department had contacted him.
Mitchell replied: “Thank you, but I do recall telling him these things and I don’t believe there was any confusion.”