Monday, June 18, 2012
Peggy Newton sentencing delayed
After a 45-minute session this afternoon, featuring the judge, Mrs. Newton's lawyer and the government lawyer, the sentencing was continued to a date to be determined later, according to online records.
When the hearing is held, the government is expected to call witnesses to show the extent of Mrs. Newton's crimes. She pleaded guilty to fraud last year as part of a plea agreement.
The agreement though does not apply to how much prison time Mrs. Newton will receive. Court records indicate the government wants her to spend at least five years in prison, while she is shooting for probation.
The government's argument was spelled out in a nine-page sentencing memorandum filed last week.
From the June 13 Turner Report:
In the nine-page memorandum, Assistant U. S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich outlined a long list of Mrs. Newton's transgressions before and after she pleaded guilty to fraud in connection with embezzling money from Evergreen and Pine, the company she owned with Diane Pine.
The memorandum lists the following evidence that will be presented to show why Mrs. Newton should go to prison:
-A record of "Ms. Newton's eight attempts to obtain credit cards using the victim's personal information. Seven applications were made via the Internet, and one application was handwritten. Four of Ms. Newton's attempts were successful."
-A three-page document "provided on May 20, 2009, by one of Ms. Newton's attorneys to the victim, and the United States Secret Service's report regarding the analysis of the handwriting in that document. The document, which bears a forgery of the victim's signature and is dated April 28, 2008, purports to be a power of attorney which the victim granted Ms. Newton."
-A summary table showing the $31,266.85 loss "caused by the defendant through forged checks, followed by copies of the forged checks and records of the deposit of those checks into Ms. Newton's personal bank account."
-A Facebook message from Peggy Newton explaining why she pleaded guilty.
-Two letters of apology, one to Diane Pine and the other to Ms. Pine's daughter, written immediately after the theft was discovered.
-A special agent's summary of how Mrs. Newton "altered carbon copies of the checks kept by the business and presented to the business's bookkeeper."
-The agent's documentation of how Mrs. Newton faked an e-mail, purportedly sent by Ms. Pine, to make it appear that Ms. Pine was taking the blame for the theft.
-The agent's summary showing that Mrs. Newton embezzled $282,149.95.
In the request for the five-year sentence, Mohlhenrich notes, "On or before May 20, 2009, the defendant, knowing that her thefts had been discovered and in an attempt to avoid prosecution and civil liability, created the false power of attorney and forged the victim's signature to it, and provided that false document to her attorney, Norman Rouse, for use in her case. Then, on June 19, 2009, the defendant transmitted to Mr. Rouse an electronic mail message that she falsely represented to be a message from the victim, Ms. Pine, to her, in an attempt to create evidence shifting blame to Ms. Pine. Special Agent Allgeyer's investigation of this e-mail message establishes that the defendant, from an IP address assigned to her computer by her Internet Service Provider, counterfeited the e-mail message she claimed originated from Ms. Pine."
Those acts, Mohlhenrich says, indicate a pattern of obstruction of justice.
Ms. Newton's attorney, the document says, will try to get his client off with no time behind bars. "At the sentencing hearing, the defendant will suggest a sentence of probation, primarily because she contends that she must care for her son, who has special needs. The Government strongly disagrees with the defendant's request for a downward departure or variance. In order to satisfy, the Government respectfully submits that a sentence of at least five years must be imposed to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense."
In the final part of the memorandum Mohlhenrich disputes Mrs. Newton's claim that she has begun repaying Ms. Pine. "In her objections to the presentencing report, the defendant claims, without documentary support, that she repaid Ms. Pine $5,075, by way of four checks she wrote to Ms. Pine.
"This claim is false. The defendant has not repaid a dime of what she owes."
Mohlhenrich asks that Mrs. Newton be required to repay the whole $282,149.95, including $276,560.26 to Ms. Pine and $5,589.69 to Advanta Bank Corp.