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A fired substance abuse counselor who worked at Lino Lakes prison has been spared being sent to prison for sexually assaulting an inmate in her office.

Stephanie M. Chase, 48, of Lindstrom, Minn., was sentenced Thursday in Anoka County District Court to 15 years' probation after pleading guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with two encounters in November 2021.

As part of Chase's sentence, Judge Jenny Walker Jasper set aside a four-year term that would have included more than 2½ years of that time in prison and the rest on supervised release. A probation violation could put Chase at risk of having the four-year term reinstated.

The judge also dismissed one count of possessing contraband and three counts of witness tampering against Chase.

Chase was hired by the state Department of Corrections in April 2019 and fired Feb. 27, a department spokesman said.

According to the criminal complaint:

An inmate told a prison investigator that three inmates had consumed gummies from Chase containing THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

The investigator found sexually explicit emails to one of the inmates describing what "Jennifer Johnson" wanted to do with him. Phone calls to the inmate were associated with the same name, but actually came from Chase.

The inmate had gone to Chase's office, where sexual encounters occurred Nov. 12 and Nov. 19 as another prisoner acted as a lookout at her request.

A third prisoner told a police detective that Chase coerced him and the lookout to take THC gummies, which put them at risk of punishment, and offered jobs to all three with her husband's company upon their release.

Lino Lakes consists of medium- and minimum-security units with a population of about 1,300 men. The prison specializes in educational and treatment programs. In many cases, inmates serve the final phase of their incarceration at Lino Lakes so they can receive the services they need before their release.