Archive for Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Local woman headed to trial on 33 counts

March 1, 2006

A Tonganoxie woman, who has served nearly 16 months in state prison, was released Friday, after a judge allowed her to withdraw her guilty plea.

In November 2004, Carla Jean Meyer Senger was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and ordered to pay $465,287 in restitution.

Prosecutors had alleged Senger was involved in a $1.2 million Ponzi scheme in which investors were bilked of about $358,000. In a Ponzi scheme, early investors in a venture are paid with investments from later investors.

Senger, who had pled guilty earlier that year to three securities fraud charges, began serving her sentence immediately.

But last fall, she filed a request that her guilty plea be withdrawn, citing problems with her attorney and errors in her sentencing that meant she received a sentence that was 10 months too long.

Last Wednesday, Senger was back in Leavenworth County District Court. And after hearing testimony, Judge Frederick Stewart offered Senger two choices:

  • Serve the remainder of her corrected sentence -- which could mean she would be out of prison in late summer or early fall.
  • Withdraw the guilty plea and stand trial on 33 criminal charges.

Senger decided to stand trial, according to Gail Bright, associate general counsel with the Kansas Securities Commissioner's office, which is prosecuting Senger.

On Thursday, Senger was released from prison and transferred to Leavenworth County Jail, according to Leonard Ayres of the sheriff's office. She was released on bond on Friday, the same day that Leavenworth attorney Terry Lober was appointed to defend her.

She is due back in court this Friday afternoon, when it is likely a trial date will be set, Bright said.

While Senger had pled guilty to three criminal charges, she now will face the original 33 charges at trial.

"In essence, what this means is we have reverted back to a pretrial posture, and she is charged with 33 counts of violation of the securities act," Bright said.

And while rumors have been swirling among Senger's alleged victims, Bright said no new charges will be added and no additional victims' claims can be brought into the case.

"We've been contacted (by other alleged victims)," Bright said. "Unfortunately, the crimes that we're talking about here occurred in 1999 and 2000, and the statute of limitations is five years. We can't add anybody in. We're reverting back to the original complaint that was filed in September of 2003."

During her sentencing hearing in November 2004, several area residents testified that Senger victimized them, stole their money and lied incessantly.

At that hearing, Senger, who is a 1986 graduate of Tonganoxie High School, said, "I do want to apologize to this court and to the individuals involved."

Among those testifying that they believed she should be sent to prison were relatives, former in-laws and friends.

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