Archive for Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Tonganoxie woman sentenced to 42-month prison term in fraud

November 17, 2004

At the conclusion of a court case, in which family members and friends were pitted against one another, a Tonganoxie woman was sentenced on Friday to 3 1/2 years in prison.

After hearing testimony and statements from people who say Carla Jean Gerry Meyer Senger victimized them, stole their money and lied incessantly, Leavenworth County District Judge Frederick Stewart sentenced Senger to:

  • 18 months in prison for selling securities as an unregistered broker-dealer.
  • 12 months for selling unregistered securities.
  • 12 months in prison for securities fraud.

Senger, 36, was taken into custody immediately after Stewart handed down the sentences, which he ruled would run consecutive to one another.

In addition, the judge ordered that Senger pay $465,287 restitution and be placed on 12 months supervision once she is released from prison.

It's likely her release won't occur for at least three years, according to Fran Brunner, who prosecuted the case for the Kansas securities commissioner's office. Brunner said that in Kansas, inmates generally serve a minimum of 85 percent of their sentence.

In September, Senger, a 1986 Tonganoxie High School graduate, pled guilty to the charges, which stemmed from financial deals she had worked out with family and friends. The five witnesses who testified at the hearing said they believed they were investing in legitimate stocks. But they had difficulty collecting profits that Senger told them they'd made.

Senger's attorneys did not call any witnesses, but Senger did make a statement.

"I do want to apologize to this court and to the individuals involved," she said.

She said she'd tried to make restitution to the victims at the time of her divorce, asking her former husband to use their assets to pay back her investors.

"The promise was to make it right to these people," she said. ''... I want to make it right. I am truly sorry to these individuals for their suffering."

And Senger's attorney, Gerald Handley, said that Senger should not be sent to prison.

"We understand people are upset they have given money to her," he said.

And he told the judge that Senger hoped to repay the money at $1,000 a month for the next 12 months -- provided she was not incarcerated.

But the judge said that considering the $465,000 involved, "That would be 40-plus years before that would be paid."

Witnesses testifying that they believed Senger should be sent to prison included former family members and friends.

A Mission Hills man, who is Senger's former brother-in-law, said he and his wife lost about $80,000.

"I was blinded by greed," he said. "I was promised returns of double, triple and in short amounts of time."

He said he asked Senger for his money "thousands of times."

She always had an excuse why his money wasn't available.

The financial loss caused hardships for his family. At one point, he and friends hired a private investigator to track Senger down.

"She has never shown any remorse to me or anyone she stole money from," he said.

One of Senger's aunts also invested money. The woman, who lives in Gardner, did receive profits, but lost about $8,000. She said her parents, who now are deceased, also lost funds.

And Senger's former father-in-law, who lives in Basehor, said he lost $250,000. The 71-year-old man testified that Senger told him she'd put three cashiers checks in his truck, and when he couldn't find them, she told him they must have been stolen.

"She preyed on people who trusted her," he said.

Senger's former mother-in-law, who lives in Shawnee, testified that she lost $25,000 -- money she was depending on for retirement. She now is working again, at age 68.

And a longtime friend, who lives in Tonganoxie, said she lost $138,000.

"She told me she was a licensed stock broker," she said.

She said Senger gave her a check in April 2000 and she was told to hold it until it was good.

"I'm still holding it," she said.

She said she repeatedly asked Senger to tell her the truth. "I asked you so many times," she said, looking at Senger, seated with her attorneys.

And while the woman's financial situation is solvent, her involvement in Senger's deals packed a punch.

"It didn't make me have to sell my house and live under a bridge, but it hurt," she said. "It hurt more because it was my friend."

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