Embezzlement suspect Anderson convicted and sentenced Wednesday afternoon

Gerald-Anderson-mugBy Joshua Scheer, lead reporter, County10.com

(Lander, Wyo.) – Gerald Anderson, 55, of Riverton, has been sentenced to 6-10 years in prison followed by 10 years supervised probation in connection with two counts of larceny by bailee. He will also be required to pay $1.5 million in restitution. The counts allege Anderson embezzled more than $960,000 from Star Tech Inc. between 2001 and 2010.

“Friendships have been shattered, lives have been changed,” Anderson said in a brief statement to the court at the end of the hearing. “I’m sorry for that.”

Ninth District Court Judge Marvin Tyler handed down the sentence Wednesday afternoon following a more than three hour hearing in which Anderson submitted an Alford plea of guilty to both charges. According to Trial.Laws.com, an Alford plea is not exactly the same as a guilty plea. “He/she continues to assert that, to the best of his/her knowledge, he/she is innocent of the crimes that he/she is being charged with,” the website states. “However, he/she admits that, based upon the available evidence, the charge will most likely be proven by the prosecution.”

The pleas, sentencing and restitution were stipulated in a plea agreement that was filed in January.

Anderson’s attorney, Jeff Stanbury, told the court the Alford plea was being utilized in order to keep Anderson from having to testify and provide factual basis for the guilty plea. He said the reason for this was due to a federal case regarding tax payments.

Instead of Anderson providing the factual basis, the Fremont County Attorney’s Office called accountant Carmen Milbury to the stand to testify. Milbury was the author of one of two affidavits filed against Anderson. She said she was hired by Precision Analysis to audit the company’s payroll and look into the status of a loan between it and Star Tech. She said in reviewing the loan she found “strange entries” and the investigation “snowballed from there.”

Milbury told the court that she reviewed both companies’ electronic records and Star Tech’s paper records dating back to 1994. Between 2000 and 2005, under questioning by Deputy County Attorney Pat LeBrun, Milbury said she found 35 Star Tech checks over $1,000 signed by Anderson to himself and deposited into his personal accounts. The checks, she said, totaled $387,025. In the next five years’ records, she said she found 67 checks meeting the same criteria totaling $573,178.83. She could not recall how many how similar checks she found that were under $1,000.

After she said she found more than $1.5 million stolen back to 1994, Tyler asked how much she found. Milbury said it was more than $3 million and included credit card transactions and payments to family members.

The two affidavits filed in the criminal cases against Anderson were included as factual basis.

After accepting Anderson’s Alford guilty pleas, Tyler listed the various cases, statutes and other items he used as research in preparing for the day.

Included in the Pre-Sentence Investigation were written victim impact statements. Tyler said that Anderson’s defense filed objections to portions of the statements. Tyler said the purpose of the impact statements were not to provide facts about Anderson, but to let victims present to the court how their lives were affected by the crimes. Defendants are not allowed to file suit against victims based on the statements. “Some of this is very concerning to me,” he said of the defense’s protests. He said the defense states that some items in the victim statements are “patently false.” He said the defense is not helping to provide facts in this, but is rather attacking the victims. “This is more than offensive to me,” Tyler said. “I give it very little weight frankly.”

Stanbury said he understands that the Alford plea makes it sound like there is a lack of remorse from Anderson. He explained the defense’s intention with the protests was to make sure Anderson’s true character was reflected for future reference. The pre-sentence investigation will be used in determining the level of security needed at the Wyoming Department of Corrections. He said he was protesting statements from victims that made his client seem dangerous or threatening and claims that Anderson is a sociopath.

“It was not our intention to attack the victims,” Stanbury said. He eventually conceded that some of the word usage in the protest letter might not have been appropriate. He also emphasized that the protest was not written by Anderson.

Tyler included the protest on the record and as part of the pre-sentence investigation, which has been sealed from release to the public.

Victims were then given a chance to speak publicly. Those who spoke were: Marilyn and Charles Starks (owners of Star Tech), Rhonda and Bob Fowler (parents of Precision Analysis owner Heidi Fabrizius), and Cory Fabrizius (co-owner of Precision Analysis and Heidi’s husband).

The victims emphasized Anderson’s effect on the businesses. It was detailed, by Charles Starks especially, that had Anderson not stolen family members would have retained their jobs, Star Tech wouldn’t have collapsed and at least 75 employees might still have jobs. “We had a lot better business than I thought,” Charles Starks said.

Anderson was called heartless, black-hearted, deceptive, a parasite, a leech, and more. Cory Fabrizius called Anderson “the most evil person I have encountered.”

Cory Fabrizius and Charles Starks said Anderson stole from them within days of speaking at their grandmother’s and wive’s, respectively, funeral in 2005. People said they had trusted him because of his high position in a local church.

The victims said Anderson stole by creating fake loans and putting pressure on the owners to pay them off as well as writing fake bills that eventually were paid to himself. Charles Starks said Anderson wrote fake bills for himself on Christmas Eve, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentines Day, Fathers Day, New Years Day and other church-related holidays. He said employees were denied raises, bonuses and some eventually employment because Anderson was taking from the company.

Rhonda Fowler said her daughter’s company was put in jeopardy because of him and that he blamed losses on the government and other employees stealing supplies. “He knew they were working day and night,” she said. “He knew they were struggling financially. … Yet he continued to steal every extra penny from us.” One year the family was kept from buying Christmas presents for their children because money was so tight, she said.

The victims alleged Anderson was padding himself with multiple homes, nice things, vehicles and an airplane. Charles Starks said a civil trial found Anderson guilty and awarded upwards of $1.7 million in repayments and punitive damages to both companies.

The court took a brief recess after testimonies before moving into the sentencing. Both sides of the case argued that the plea agreement was fair, just and punishing. LeBrun said it provides enough deterrence to keep Anderson from doing the same things again as well as others who might be considering it. He said he felt it also satisfies the victims.

“He will stand and take his lumps,” Stanbury said.

LeBrun said Anderson has the assets to at least pay something toward restitution. Stanbury noted that it will be difficult for Anderson to get a job once he gets out of prison. Stanbury asked for payment of restitution not be included as a stipulation of probation for fear of him failing to pay and having probation revoked. Tyler said probation cannot be revoked if Anderson was simply unable to pay. He also said it would be speculation for him to say that Anderson wouldn’t be able to pay anything back and ordered the $1.5 million in restitution.

Anderson was then given a brief moment to speak. In the past year, he said he’s been able to see the emotional impact on his own family. “It’s obvious there’s a tremendous emotional toll on (the victims) as well,” he said.

He also apologized for people losing their trust in him.

Tyler sentenced Anderson according to the plea agreement. Anderson will serve 6-10 years in prison for the first charge. The second charge carried a sentence of 8-10 years in prison that would be suspended. He will then serve 10 years supervised probation following the completion of his sentence for the first charge. Anderson will receive credit for the 315 days served since his arrest. Paying restitution, Tyler said, would result in Anderson having to take responsibility for his past actions. While on probation, Anderson may not work with anyone else’s money without the OK by his probation agent. He will also be required to provide his personal financial information to the probation agent.