Lori E. Christensen, who had been warned time and again to stop harassing her neighbors, was sentenced Wednesday to 90 days in the Ramsey County workhouse and barred from being within a mile of her White Bear Lake home for the next 4 1/2 years, the time remaining on her probation.
After dismissing Christensen's latest excuse for her behavior with a terse, "that's bull," Ramsey County District Judge George Stephenson signed the order, which promised long-awaited relief to neighbors whom the judge said she terrorized.
Greg Hoffman, whose family has lived across the street from Christensen for 12 years and endured her taunts over his wife's alcoholism for three years, called Wednesday's sentence a "step in the right direction."
This wasn't the first time the Hoffmans have turned to the legal system for help. During the past two years, Christensen has been charged repeatedly for violating harassment restraining orders obtained by the Hoffmans. The offenses, in turn, have escalated in severity, from misdemeanors to a felony for which she was sentenced last December to 90 days in the county correctional facility.
So that made Wednesday's order "a definite wait-and-see -- because we've been here before," Hoffman said in a reference to Christensen's sentencing last year in the same courtroom by the same judge.
Still unknown after her four most recent courtroom appearances was why Christensen has harassed the Hoffman family for so long.
"You are a mom; you are successful in your employment," Stephenson told her. "This makes absolutely no sense."
He ordered her to undergo counseling, as determined by the probation office.
Christensen's attorney told the judge that the 49-year-old had no intention of returning to her Homewood Place house.
On Wednesday, Christensen admitted that she had violated probation by alerting authorities to run-down siding at the Hoffman house and by calling police about papers that had floated onto her property from theirs.
Prosecutor David Hunt argued her actions violated a no-contact order signed by Stephenson when he sentenced her last year to 90 days in the workhouse for a prior harassment-related conviction.
"In my opinion, she is thumbing her nose at the court's authority," Hunt said.
Christensen told the judge that she had been worried about neighborhood aesthetics -- and about how her efforts to sell her home could be affected.
"That's bull," Stephenson replied.
He said that he expected her to admit, instead, that she had "screwed up," and that she had once again harassed the Hoffman family.
He ordered her to begin serving her workhouse sentence on Monday.
Stephenson said Christensen, an executive assistant at the Metropolitan Council, could be allowed work release, if approved by the county probation office. But she could not serve any of her time on electronic home monitoring, the judge ruled.
After she left the courtroom, Christensen was asked by a reporter about a note that she had written asking everyone to "keep/have an open mind" and stating that she wanted it known that there are two sides to every story.
She responded by accusing Greg Hoffman of having ruined her daughter's life by videotaping her while she was outside.
Hoffman, when told of the allegation, called it "absolutely preposterous." It had been solely Christensen's behavior, he said, that the Hoffmans sought to document for police.
To him, he said, "The other side of the story is: Why did you do this?"
And, he added, was it worth it?
Anthony Lonetree • 612-875-0041