Thursday, August 02, 2012
Two years behind bars for Peggy Newton
Federal Court Judge Richard Dorr split the difference today, sentencing the Joplin businesswoman to two years in prison for fraud and requiring her to repay $150,000. The restitution will go to Mrs. Newton's former business partner at Evergreen and Amber, Diane Pine.
Dorr's decision came at the end of a split two-day sentencing hearing. Because of the differences in the two sides, testimony was presented Monday and then today, following a two-day break.
In his case, Assistant U. S. Attorney Steven Mohlhenrich presented the following information, which was laid out beforehand in a sentencing memorandum.
-Mrs. 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 the attempts were successful.
-A forged document giving Mrs. Newton power of attorney dated April 28, 2008. The document read (with private information omitted) "I, Diane L. Pine, give Peggy Newton permission to act on my behalf in any personal and business matters. I give her permission to sign my name and to use my personal information for personal and business matters. Personal information such as social security number xxx-xx-xxx, birthdate x-xx-xxxx, mother's maiden name, father and etc."
-A summary table showing the $31,266.85 loss caused by Peggy Newton forging checks, copies of the forged checks and records of the deposit of those checks into Peggy Newton's personal bank account.
-"Correspondence, handwritten notes, electronic mail messages and posts on the Facebook social media internet site." In one message, Mrs. Newton wrote about her guilty plea. "This was a tough decision, trial or plea, and I truly feel at ease with my decision, scared, but at ease. The trial is with 12 jurors and if the jury found me guilty on one count, I could serve 48 months, but as always there is that possibility that the jury could find me not guilty, but I can't take that chance. My indictment was 24 counts, but many have been proven to be the victim's purchases so those counts have been dismissed, but if the jury found me guilty on just one of those four other counts, the judge would have to sentence me on the relevant conduct of the indictment and that is where the four-year sentence would come into play. The plea is: I plead guilty to one count and I get to have a hearing with the judge to prove that the victim's accusations of relevant conduct is ridiculous and instead to trying to prove my case to 12 jurors I get to do that with a judge who knows the guidelines- it is just like a trial but I get more power to argue my case. it is so confusing to explain. The plea gave me a better chance to not serve any time since I have two children and one of them has special needs. I absolutely have battled my mind with this, but my children are the most important and I have to take the 'safe route.' I wanted you to let you know for prayer, friendship, and out of respect, instead of reading or hearing about it. Please know that (my children) will be okay and I know God is in control. We will just go on with our lives as usual until a decision is made and then we will adapt. Thanks for listening."
-Two letters of apology written by Mrs. Newton after the theft was discovered- one to Mrs. Pine and the other to Mrs. Pine's daughter.
-Allgeyer's summary of the checks written on a U. S. Bank account and alterations made by Mrs. Newton to the carbon copies of the checks that were given to Evergreen and Amber's bookkeeper.
-A fake e-mail, written by Mrs. Newton and sent to herself, purporting to be from Mrs. Pine, including the statement, "Kids have no idea what I have done and they will never forgive me. I can't lose them, too; please, let's come together and sort this out." Allgeyer traced the e-mail to Mrs. Newton's IP address.
-A summary of findings presented by Mrs. Newton to the government four days ago.
-The government's summary calculation of the money that was taken.
Mohlhenrich wrote, "At the sentencing hearing, the defendant will request 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, and notes that the probation officer's second addendum to the PSR (pre-sentence report) addresses the issue of the defendant's son's special needs."
In the papers turned over to the government four days ago, Mrs. Newton included some claims that had not been made before, including saying that she had "loaned the business tens of thousands of dollars of her and her husband's money, from paying for items to covering overdrafts."
Mohlhenrich also says Mrs. Newton's claim that she repaid Mrs. Pine $5,075 is false. "The defendant has not repaid a dime of what she owes."