Victims happy fake attorney in prison after string of frauds
FARMINGTON — Robert Sinclair Argyle is spending his days in the Utah State Prison’s maximum-security Uintas unit, sent there recently for parlaying a fake law degree and other deceptions to steal more than $600,000 from various victims.
Dennis Hollaway, Neal Pollard and Dallon Boyd hope Argyle will be behind bars for as long as the law allows after what he did to them and their loved ones.
“I don’t know Robert, but after over 20 years in law enforcement, I know his type, his kind,” Hollaway said at Argyle’s Nov. 3 sentencing in Farmington’s 2nd District Court. “And rehabilitation I don’t think is a possibility in this case.”
Prosecutors said Argyle, claiming a Stanford University law degree, stole at least $582,000 from David Holbrook, Hollaway’s uncle. Argyle fooled even his own parents about the law degree and was working out of his father’s Bountiful office. Holbrook was an old college friend of the elder Argyle.
Gage Arnold, a deputy Davis County attorney, said at the sentencing that Argyle “spent Mr. Holbrook’s entire life savings in a matter of a couple of years. Over $400,000 was gone.” Argyle transferred Holbrook’s money into his own account, and after the man died, he tapped his life insurance proceeds.
Charging documents said Argyle spent tens of thousands of dollars over several months on a Mercedes, toupees, travel, lodging and food, and paid several thousand dollars per month to rent a large home in North Salt Lake.
“The family was horrified that this would happen to David by people that were friends of his, that he respected and trusted,” Hollaway said. “I hope and pray that he gets sentenced to a substantial amount of time in prison for these despicable acts.”
Neal Pollard said Argyle was trying to buy his home and in the process cheated him of $4,500. They were in the same congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time.
“It’s interesting that he was brave enough to do something like this in his own backyard,” Pollard said, adding that Argyle tried to make him the villain in the neighborhood when their dispute broke open.
“He always turns on the people who file charges or make claims against him,” Pollard said. “When this all fell apart, it basically divided the church congregation. His family was making accusations against my reputation and they were incredulous that I would do such a horrible thing as accuse him of fraud.”
Pollard said Argyle “once even got up in church and demanded everyone’s forgiveness.”
“I am hoping he gets a nice long sentence so he can be broken of this lack of remorse and his attitude that he thinks he can get away with anything,” Pollard said. “And if he ever does get out, I think it would be good for him to work and have that money garnished so he can finally feel what it’s like to toil and work and have that money taken from him.”
Boyd rented an apartment to Argyle and his wife in Farmington. Arnold said Argyle fraudulently used his own aunt’s credit card for the rent, and after the fraud was discovered, the Boyds had to evict them. Boyd was defrauded a second time when Argyle forged a check that was supposed to pay the Boyd family’s attorneys’ fees in the first case.
Boyd told the court about the “fear and stress and worry that (Argyle) has caused our family.” He said his wife was traumatized “by fear of retaliation and something happening with our children.”
Argyle, 36, agreed to a plea bargain Sept. 22 that resolved six cases in Davis County. Several of the charges, including theft, communications fraud and money laundering, were second-degree felonies, which called for one to 15 years in prison. In the Holbrook case alone, he pleaded guilty to 10 charges. The Davis County Attorney’s Office dropped about two dozen other charges in return for the guilty pleas.
Defense attorney Mark Arrington asked 2nd District Judge Ronald Russell to sentence Argyle to probation because he has been in jail for almost 700 days since his arrest. He became head baker in the jail and the court even received letters of support for Argyle from jailers, Arrington said.
“I would argue the community has already got its pound of flesh out of him, and he’s lost everything,” Arrington said.
Arnold said in an interview Thursday that Argyle’s crimes continued even after he was taken to the Davis County Jail. He was able to pass a fraudulent check for about $19,000, aided by someone on the outside, Arnold said.
Argyle told Russell he was “absolutely broken-hearted at what I have done. Not only the financial harm, but what truly breaks my heart is the emotional harm that was done to my victims, that was done to my family.”
He said he worked eight to 12 hours, six or seven days a week in the jail kitchen and laundry. “I have taken this opportunity to self-correct the behaviors,” he said.
He asked the judge for an opportunity to prove himself. He said his long-term plan is to pay all the fines and restitution to his victims and ultimately get his criminal record expunged from the court record.
He said he has seen many repeat criminals during his time in jail, “this type of person, come and go. This is not who I am and this is not who I want to be.”
Arnold asked Russell to sentence Argyle to consecutive second-degree felony prison terms, reaching the maximum penalty of up to 30 years. “The only reason we do not have additional victims is because he was finally incarcerated,” Arnold said. “He does not deserve a chance at probation.”
The prosecutor said although the crimes that resulted in the convictions occurred in 2017-19, Argyle’s fraudulent behavior began about a dozen years ago, when he told his parents he had been accepted to law school, and they paid him thousands of dollars a month over the next few years as he supposedly worked through school.
Argyle also hoodwinked law firms in Salt Lake City and Ogden into hiring him. They fired him after his fake credentials were exposed.
Russell said the issue of consecutive sentences is addressed under state law. He said the law requires consecutive terms if one of the crimes was committed while the defendant was behind bars.
“He was holding himself out to be an attorney and put himself in a position to gain the trust of numerous people,” Russell said “I find that the aggravating circumstances outweigh significantly the mitigating circumstances in this case. That militates against putting him in a situation where he’s put on probation or given opportunities to go back out into the public and potentially commit more crimes.”
The two consecutive sentences of one to 15 years means that Argyle could spend from two to 30 years in prison. However, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole now controls the case and will decide how long Argyle will be locked up.
“We were very pleased with the imposition of sentences,” Arnold said Thursday. “The victims are happy with it too.”