It was a somber atmosphere in the courtroom as Garth Day entered with his attorney, Amy Hugie. As U.S. Magistrate Judge Samuel Alba read each one of the six charges aloud to him, Day responded with a weak and barely audible whisper. With each charge presented to the defendant, the judge confirmed that Day understood it and also , understood that the government is required to prove their case against him beyond a reasonable doubt. Day was also informed that if he changed his plea to guilty, he would waive his rights to a trial and therefore relieve the government from having to prove their case. In each case Day responded in the affirmative.
From June 2008 to August 2010, Garth Day had held the position of Morgan County Council Administrator. In this capacity, Day had responsibility for all of the non-elected employee departments in the county. In the plea agreement reached with federal prosecutors, Day admitted that he had misappropriated approximately $1 million in funds to pay off personal debt. A portion of this $1 million was taken from the county and a portion was from fraudulent accounts opened in the county’s name for which the county will not have liability.
Day said that he had repaid more than half of the money taken before he reported the full extent of his conduct to county authorities around August 27, 2010. According to the plea agreement, the total restitution due to victims of the fraudulent activity, including a financial institution and the county, is $416,222.24; $166,222 owed to the county and $250,000 to Centennial Bank. Day agreed to pay full restitution as a part of his plea agreement with the government.
According to the agreement, Day’s fraud scheme involved several electronic transfers, fraudulent mailings to banks and credit card companies to get them to extend him credit in Morgan County’s name, and forged documents. He also admitted he created false documents to cover his criminal conduct when he was questioned by county officials.
For example, Day admitted that in October 2008, he submitted a credit card application to US Bank in order to obtain a credit card using the credit of Morgan County. He represented to the bank that the credit card was authorized by the county when, in fact, it was not.
On another occasion, he submitted various false documents to Centennial Bank to obtain a $250,000 line of credit in the name of Morgan County. He submitted a promissory note forging the name of a Morgan County council member. He also submitted a false government certificate to the bank with a forged signature. Day said that he needed money generated by the scheme to pay off personal debt he accrued from two speculation homes he owned. Theft from a program receiving federal funds carries a potential penalty of up to ten years in federal prison; if convicted, false loan and credit applications and wire, mail, and bank fraud have potential penalties of up to 30 years in federal prison. Money laundering carries a potential penalty of ten years. Day also faces a fine of up to $1 million.
Once Judge Alba had completed reading the charges, he then went back through the charges and asked Day to state his plea. Day responded with a plea of guilty to each of the six charges. By so doing Day waived his right to a trial as well as the ability to change his plea at a later date.
The prosecutor communicated to the judge their recommendation that Day’s sentence be reduced by two to three levels depending upon the individual counts, the continued verification of the accuracy of Day’s statements, and Day’s continued cooperation. Day will remain free until the sentencing hearing which was set for October 25, 2011 at 2:00 p.m.
In the intervening months a recommendation will be made on the sentence for Day based on the crimes. It is this sentence recommendation that will likely be reduced by two to three levels based on Day’s cooperation. The conditions of Day’s release are that he not leave the state without the court’s permission, that he obtain or continue to seek employment, and that he return his passport. Day further is required to maintain his residence unless permission is given to move, refrain from possessing a firearm, obtain no new lines of credit, and appear at the court upon request.