SALT LAKE CITY -- U.S. District Court Judge Dee Benson was blunt Tuesday when sentencing former Morgan County Administrator Garth B. Day to 48 months in federal prison for stealing from the county.
Day "is a schemer," Benson said. "He is a typical con artist. He says what he needs to say to get his way."
Day, 42, of Elwood, pleaded guilty in May to charges of money laundering; false loan and credit applications; theft from a program receiving federal funds; and wire, mail and bank fraud.
According to the plea agreement, Day's scheme involved several electronic transfers, fraudulent mailings to banks and credit card companies and forged documents to get them to extend him credit in Morgan County's name.
Benson ordered Day to pay $250,000 in restitution to the now-defunct Centennial Bank and another $166,222.24 to Morgan County.
Day also was ordered to self-report to a federal prison facility south of Portland, Ore., by noon Dec. 6.
Day's prison time will be followed by 36 months of supervised release, during which he cannot open any line of credit, be employed in any position with fiduciary responsibilities, open more than one checking account, transfer any asset with a value of more than $500, or be employed or participate in any real estate transactions.
"I would not trust Mr. Day with anything important," Benson said.
According to court mandate, Day must surrender all income tax refunds and make regular monthly payments after his release from prison to pay restitution for the funds he embezzled.
Forty-five people -- including Day's family members, Morgan County employees and a former county council member -- were in the courtroom to hear the sentence.
Brad C. Smith, Day's attorney and current Ogden School District superintendent, asked the judge to reduce his client's sentence to less than 41 months, giving Day credit for "self-reporting" his crimes and having no previous criminal background.
"He is a broken man. He forfeited and sold his respect and honor for money," Smith said.
"I've watched him take difficult steps to restore his self-respect. He has a strong desire to commence on this path of restoring his honor and accept the court's sentence."
U.S. Attorney Carlos A. Esqueda, however, pushed for 41 months, saying that sentence would "let the people in Morgan County know that the justice system does work."
"The most difficult pill to swallow is the breach of trust," Esqueda said. "Everyone trusted him. He chose the wrong road."
Morgan County Attorney Jann Farris pushed for 51 months, the maximum allowed under the sentencing guidelines.
"My impression is, federal courts don't go light on white-collar criminals," Farris told Benson before he issued his decision.
"This is not the case of a small mistake of someone desperate for money. He went to the extreme of creating an alias, speaking with a disguised voice and listing a post office box that did not exist.
"The only thing missing was a disguise. He came in with the intent to do harm to Morgan County."
Day offered apologies in court.
"I would like to apologize to the people of Morgan, who trusted me," he said. "I violated that trust."
He mentioned Farris, Morgan County Treasurer Bonnie Thomson and County Clerk/Auditor Stacy Lafitte by name in his apology. He also mentioned the Morgan County Council, his family, siblings, in-laws and parents.
"I was dishonest to them," he said. "My family will ultimately pay the price for this, although they did nothing wrong. My parents raised me better than this."
He admitted what he did was wrong and said its root was desperation.
Before the hearing, many of Day's family members and friends, including a state senator, sent letters to Benson showing their support.
But the judge said the letters were more proof that Day had misrepresented the truth and managed to convince people he is something he's not.
Benson said Day had misrepresented himself in his adult life by listing on his resume a bachelor's degree and master's degree obtained from Rochville University, which operates a website from in Sarasota, Fla., and offers credit based on life experience.
Benson called the degrees "fraudulent."
Smith disagreed, saying the transcripts represented courses Day took online.
Smith did agree that the university is not accredited.