Garth Day appeared before Judge Dee Benson on Tuesday for sentencing. Judge Benson first invited Day’s attorney to speak. Day’s attorney, Brad Smith spoke and requested that the court deviate from the recommended sentence. He asserted that when Day came to him on August 27 of 2010 he was a “broken man…He had in effect sold his self respect and honor for money…I have watched him take difficult steps to restore his honor,” said Smith. Smith asserted that Day had come forward voluntarily once he felt that discovery was imminent, but that he had revealed the full nature of his crimes beyond what was going to be immediately discovered, including a bank loan and a letter of credit of which the county was not yet aware.
He also suggested to the court that this was a one-time action inconsistent with the rest of Day’s life. Smith suggested that Day had provided public service in his previous employment and with service in the Navy. Smith also pointed to Day’s cooperation after the discovery and his willingness to accept the sentence from the court.
One of the most curios elements of Smith’s requests was his assertion that Day did not fabricate his education. County attorney Jann Farris had investigated Day’s education and discovered that the two degrees held by Day were from a University that had been “diploma mill” that would provide diplomas for a fee. The judge questioned Smith about the diplomas and whether the transcripts and degrees were real. Smith asserted that the institution was real and that the grades were for actual classes attended. The judge then asked whether Smith had verified this information. Smith said that he had Day had informed him that the diplomas were real. Smith did admit that the university was not accredited, but continued to assert that the diplomas represented online classes taken and a degree that was earned. “You believe him [Day] on that subject? I just find that curious,” said Judge Benson. Benson also commented on the large number of letters he had received in support of Day. He observed that the number of letters was unusual.
Morgan County Attorney, Jann Farris, was then invited to speak. Farris communicated that he had recommended that the case be tried in Federal court to ensure that Day would receive the maximum sentence possible for his crimes. Farris said that he believed that Day came to the county with the intent to do harm to the county. He also reported that the investigation and prosecution of Day had been a “huge drain” on the small county. He refuted Smith’s claims that Day had come forward of his own accord and said that Day had systematically tried to hide his crimes including forged documents, purchasing a disposable cell phone, impersonating a state official by changing his voice and pretending to be someone else in a phone call with a county official as well as many other actions.
Farris also said that Day had misrepresented himself from the beginning with his education credentials. He further said that Day had used the relationships he had formed with individuals in the county to further his crimes and manipulate individuals into defending him. Farris recommended the maximum sentence for Day to give him additional time to contemplate the harm his actions had done.
U.S. Attorney, Carlos A. Esqueda, agreed with Farris. “It is the breach of trust that is the most hard to swallow.” said Esqueda. Based on the trust given to Day Morgan County has a loss that tax payers will have to bear, continued Esqueda. Esqueda discounted the self-reporting from Day. “Eventually he did come forward…he received benefit from this in the reduced number of counts.” Day was not charged with all the counts he could have been because of cooperation with prosecutors.
Day spoke to the court and apologized for his actions. He apologized for the breach of trust to the county council, the treasurer, sheriff’s department, and other county officials. “The root of this comes from some desperation…small steps led down the path,” said Day.
The judge did not buy Day’s contrition. He gave Day a stern lecture as a part of the sentence. He said, “I see an individual here who has essentially been misrepresenting himself for his entire adult professional career. I don’t believe the educational indicators. I personally wouldn’t trust Mr. Day with anything important…I think this large amount of letters sent to the court by family, friends and acquaintances in support of Day] is in some ways an effort to misrepresent the truth…Mr. Day has certainly managed to convince a lot of people that he is different from the person he appears to me to be. He appears to me to be a typical con artist. He will say what he needs to say to get his way. He represents this as a man who got into some financial difficulty. That doesn’t explain the timing and deceit that went into this. From my time on the bench and prior to that as a prosecutor…this is a pattern of conduct I find disturbing.”
Day was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison followed by 36 months of probation. Day was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $250,000 to Centennial Bank and $166,222.24 to Morgan County. He was also fined $600. In addition to the normal probation terms the judge ordered that Day:
1. Have no credit cards or lines of credit.
2. Give the probation officer access to all his business and personal financial information.
3. Not have access to any credit or personal information from others in his employment unless the employer is fully aware of the nature of his conviction and the job is approved by the probation officer.
4. Is prohibited from working at any federally regulated financial institution.
5. May not be involved in the finances of others.
6. May not have more than one checking or savings account.
7. Will not transfer or sell any assets greater than $500 without the approval of the probation officer.
8. Will apply any tax refunds and any windfall earnings to the payment of restitution.
9. Will file any outstanding tax returns with the IRS and pay all taxes.
10. Cannot be involved in any real estate transactions or businesses without the approval of the probation officer.
Day was ordered to surrender himself no later than December 6 for incarceration. The judge recommended a federal facility in Oregon, at Day’s request, that will be near family and will facilitate visits with his family.