News Column

Gambler must make restitution in Buchanan County case

July 31, 2014

By Dennis Magee, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa

July 31--INDEPENDENCE -- A gambler who stole his girlfriend's tax refund and credit cards and got bank loans illegally, playing with $200,000 in four years, argued Tuesday he should not have to repay $4,600 in restitution.

Jeff Conrad, 29, of Independence, participated in the court hearing in Buchanan County by telephone because he is in prison.

As part of a deal with prosecutors, Conrad in April pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree fraudulent practice and three counts of second-degree fraudulent practice. In exchange, the court dismissed charges of ongoing criminal conduct, first-degree fraudulent practice and second-degree theft.

For the crimes, the court sentenced Conrad to three 5-year prison sentences and one 10-year prison sentence. He will serve the terms concurrently alongside:

--A two-year prison sentence for child endangerment.

--A two-year prison sentence for second-offense domestic abuse assault.

--Two years for driving while barred as a habitual offender.

--One year for operating while under the influence.

Judge David Staudt on April 29 in Black Hawk County also sentenced Conrad to five years in prison. Conrad pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of a credit card, a felony.

One of his victims, Robert Bly, demanded Conrad return $4,600. According to court documents, Bly bought Conrad a safe and asked him to keep the money during Bly's separation from his wife. Bly alleged he never got the money back.

Judge George Stigler on Tuesday ruled Conrad owed the money.

"Defendant's guilty plea encompassed the repayment of all restitution amounts even for count that he did not plead to. ... Evidence reflects defendant did take $4,600 from victims in the counts to which he did plead," Stigler wrote.

"Restitution has been properly calculated," the judge added.

Conrad also lost an argument in June for a reconsideration of his sentence. In a letter to the Buchanan County District Court, Conrad said redress for his crimes, which were primarily financial in nature, would be "best resolved through repayment" rather than incarceration.

He also suggested a root cause for his actions.

"A great number of the negative decisions I have made I can directly link to living the alcoholic lifestyle," Conrad wrote.

Judge Andrea Dryer denied the motion to reconsider Conrad's sentences.


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Source: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (IA)

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