Archive for Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Plea made in local woman’s fraud case

April 12, 2006

In a few weeks, a Tonganoxie woman will be sentenced -- for a second time -- in connection with a scheme in which she defrauded her friends and relatives.

Last week, Carla Jean Meyer Senger, 37, entered a no-contest plea in Leavenworth County District Court to securities fraud and felony theft. Judge Frederick Stewart found Senger guilty and set sentencing for 9 a.m. May 5.

The state securities commissioner originally had charged the 1986 Tonganoxie High School graduate with 33 felony counts, stemming from allegations she was running a $1.2 million Ponzi scheme.

In a Ponzi scheme, early investors in a venture are paid with investments from later investors.

In September 2004, Senger pled guilty to three felonies and a few months later was sentenced to prison. She started serving her 3 1/2-year sentence immediately.

But last fall, she asked to withdraw her guilty plea, citing problems with her attorney and problems with her sentencing. She withdrew the plea and was released from prison in February. The judge had set her trial for this week.

But last Friday, Senger was back in court, entering her plea. In an agreement with prosecutors, Senger agreed to repay five investors -- former friends and family members -- a total of $465,287.

As part of that agreement, prosecutors recommend Senger be sentenced to 18 months on the securities fraud charge and six months on the theft charge. In addition, prosecutors may ask the judge to order that the sentences run consecutive to one another.

Senger will receive credit for the time she's served in prison -- as well as good-behavior, according to Gail Bright, associate general counsel in the securities commissioner's office.

Depending on the judge's sentence, it's possible Senger would be freed again in late summer or early fall, Bright said.

In 2004, before Senger was sentenced, family members and friends testified she had victimized them, stole their money and lied incessantly. 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.

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