(ST. PAUL, Minn.) — The nightmare is dragging on a bit longer for a Minnesota couple after their “neighbor from hell,” who was scheduled to be sentenced in a harassment case, asked to withdraw her guilty plea.
Greg and Kim Hoffman of White Bear Lake, Minn., will have to wait at least another month to close a chapter of their lives that has spanned six years and included more than 80 calls to police, almost 50 citations and enough mugshots to fill a photo album — all because of Lori Christensen, 50, who has been dubbed the “neighbor from hell.”
The Hoffmans said their neighbor lobbed obscenities at their children, made lewd gestures and repeatedly taunted Kim Hoffman about her struggle with alcohol.
In July, Christensen accepted a plea agreement in Ramsey County District Court for violating a restraining order after she allegedly videotaped the Hoffmans’ home and car. As part of the plea deal, she agreed to a stronger-than-usual probation sentence — 10 years, not the typical five — for which she was expected to sign and return a waiver.
But on Wednesday, when Christensen appeared in court for sentencing, she tried to take it all back and did not return the waiver, causing her sentencing to be delayed.
“She feels her attorney forced her to plead guilty, and that the court may have alluded to a possible 48-month prison sentence if [she] would be convicted,” Christensen’s attorney, Gary Wolf, wrote in a motion obtained by the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Wolf did not immediately return a request for comment.
It will now be up to a jury to decide whether a 10-year probation sentence, which exceeds the state’s five-year guideline, is merited in the case. A hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 14 and is expected to last several days.
The moment has been a long time coming for the Hoffmans. After a string of incidents, including verbal tirades, the Hoffmans obtained a restraining order against Christensen in 2010. They soon learned that wasn’t enough to deter a woman who was reportedly intent on making their lives miserable.
Christensen devised a new and very public way to torment the Hoffmans, they said: 25-foot signs that covered her garage with humiliating messages such as “I Saw Mommy Kissing A Breathalyzer,” aimed at Kim Hoffman, who told ABC News’ 20/20 last year that she was a recovering alcoholic.
Christensen’s continued harassment was a clear violation of the restraining order, landing her in a county workhouse for 30 days as a convicted felon. The day after she returned home, the Hoffmans said the signs kept going up again.
On May 19, 2012, Christensen was caught videotaping the Hoffman family as they left their home — another direct violation of the order. Her current legal issues stem from this violation.
Last year, a judge banned Christensen from returning to her home, and the house was put up for sale.
Greg Hoffman told 20/20 last year that through it all, he is glad his family had made it clear they won’t tolerate harassment.
“People shouldn’t have to get up and move because you have a neighbor that is making your life miserable,” he said. “We took our neighborhood back.”
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