Judge delays sentencing until prosecutor presents numbers
A federal judge seemed irked Monday when a prosecutor told her he did not have restitution figures for two Ramona men who played lesser roles in a fraud that was started by Rollo Norton II, a former Ramona financial planner whom she sentenced to two years in prison on June 28.
After U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Huff asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Casper for the figures and he didn’t have them, she delayed sentencing until Aug. 27 for Scott Greer, 33, and Todd Johnson, 37. Both remain free on $50,000 bond.
Huff seemed surprised that Casper didn’t have the figures “after all this time” for how much he believes Greer and Johnson are responsible for. Huff noted she set a restitution hearing for Norton for Sept. 20, but he was the mastermind of the scheme.
The courtroom was filled with 32 friends and family members of Johnson and Greer.
Johnson pleaded guilty to making a false statement on a loan application submitted to a bank in connection with his work for Norton’s firm. Greer and Norton pleaded guilty to grand theft.
Attorney Gerald McFadden, who represents Johnson, said Johnson was cooperative and testified at a civil trial in San Diego Superior Court in which fraud victims sued two financial institutions that were found liable. McFadden said his client had a hardship with five children and suggested house arrest.
“I’m not going to do home detention,” said Huff.
McFadden then suggested a 30-day term in prison. Casper asked for 21 months in prison for Johnson.
Attorney Michael Kirby, who represented many victims in that civil trial, said Johnson “told the truth the way he saw it” and “the jury thought he told the truth.”
Another surprise came when a victim, Keith Holdaway, stepped forward and urged leniency for Greer, saying he was the only participant who apologized to him for his losses. He said Greer was also the only one who let him into his home in 2005 when he had questions about the losses that occurred in the condominium project that failed.
“He (Greer) had an amount of integrity that I appreciated so much. He told me he was very sorry for what he had done,” said Holdaway. “I have great respect to someone who says I screwed up.”
Holdaway submitted a letter to the judge that urges probation for Greer. He said Greer’s early admission worked like “a healing effect” to him.
“Scott was a Scout in Rick’s youth group, lacked business experience and was a puppet for Rick Norton. … Rick made the decisions and had Todd and Scott carry them out,” Holdaway wrote.
“Scott was the only one that had the integrity, courage, and character to call and sincerely apologize for his role in the deceit and fraud. He stated that he wanted to make that call for over two years, but his attorney told him that he could not make the call (then),” wrote Holdaway.
“I believe him. I know it was sincere and it meant so much to me to have someone admit his involvement and wrongs and ask for forgiveness,” continued Holdaway. “It aided so much in the healing process for me to finally have someone ‘man up’ to their actions. … I understand that I am the victim in Scott’s guilty plea. I would hope that my comments and pleading for him would be valued highly as to the sentence he receives.”
Greer sent a letter to Huff in which he said he had personally spoken with each victim and apologized “for my part in their suffering.”
He said he has come up with some restitution, but finding employment after Norton was difficult because of his felony conviction.
“This has been a harsh life lesson, and the worst part about it is the hurt it has caused to so many,” wrote Greer.
Greer said his wife got a job, and he takes care of the couple’s three children while she is working.
“I realize that I betrayed the public trust that was given to me and I am willing to do what is necessary in order to correct that,” he wrore. “… I will willingly accept whatever punishment you deem appropriate, and I will serve my sentence with upmost diligence and correctness.”
“I promise you I will use my future for good,” Greer told the judge in the letter.
At Norton’s sentencing, Casper said the fraud was initially estimated at $20 million, but it was eventually determined to be closer to $7 million. Some victims won settlements and, including the civil jury’s verdict, the loss now was estimated at $2,613,576, according to Casper.
Norton bought some apartments in Pacific Beach in 1999 and attempted to turn them into condominiums. He mismanaged the project and ended up borrowing money in the names of the investors without their knowledge before the project collapsed, according to court records.
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