BOISE -- Do you remember Joy Cassidy?

She is the 75-year-old woman who dumped mayonnaise, maple syrup and ketchup in a library book drop.

While Cassidy was fighting her case, she became the victim of another crime.

Cassidy paid her lawyer, Richard Bergesen, $152,000 to represent her. Lawyers we talked to say she should have only paid $3,000.

Ada County prosecuting attorney Jonathan Medema said Bergesen played off Cassidy's fears of going to jail to get thousands of dollars more.

It started when Cassidy dumped condiments in an Ada County library book drop in 2009. She hired attorney Richard Bergesen to help with her case.

He was telling her that he needed this money to keep her out of prison, said Medema.

Bergesen first asked for $50,000, then he said he needed $100,000 more. Cassidy paid the outrageous sum because she was scared of going to jail.

Well, there is usually no limit on people who are stealing money, you know he can take it, so he'll just keep taking more, said Medema.

Cassidy's financial adviser thought the withdrawals were odd and notified the Idaho State Bar. An investigation was started. There were complaints from other clients and in November Bergesen's license to practice law was suspended. But that didn't stop him from taking on clients.

He represented himself as a lawyer to a person who paid him money expecting him to be able to do legal services, which of course he couldn't because his license was suspended at that time, said Medema.

That is when Bergesen was charged with felony grand theft. Later, prosecutors added felony exploitation of a vulnerable adult for what he did to Cassidy. Bergesen pleaded guilty to grand theft, and the other charge was dropped.

I am confident in saying that the sentence would not have been what it was if the court had not been convinced that what he did to Joy was a theft, said Medema.

Bergesen was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison. He will be eligible for parole after three years. He must also pay more than $153,000 in restitution.

Cassidy pleaded guilty to dumping condiments in the library book drop. In January, a judge sentenced her to at least a month in jail.

Read or Share this story: