URBANA – A former Danville bank official who admitted stealing upward of $150,000 from the bank to cover gambling debts was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in federal prison.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael McCuskey imposed the sentence on a contrite Charles Boyer, 45, now of Washington, Ill.
At the conclusion of an emotion-packed sentencing hearing that took more than two hours, McCuskey said he had no doubt that Boyer had changed for the better and likely would never commit a crime again.
"But I cannot ignore who Charles Boyer was for several years," said McCuskey in imposing a sentence near the minimum of the federal sentencing guidelines.
McCuskey said he also had to send a message of deterrence to others in the financial field in positions of trust.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hilary Frooman had recommended the 15 months and restitution while Boyer's attorney, David Ryan of Danville, urged the judge to depart from the guidelines and consider four months, three of which he said could be served on home confinement.
Boyer pleaded guilty in late August to bank fraud, admitting that between October 1997 and September 1999, he defrauded the Palmer American National Bank out of between $120,000 and $200,000.
Although Boyer's case had been under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation since shortly after the fraud was uncovered, he was not formally charged in federal court until late August.
Frooman filed a formal explanation for the timing with the court, but the case took so long because of the difficulty in trying to find an accurate paper trail, she said.
"It was a nightmare," Frooman said after the hearing. But she noted for McCuskey that the bank and its insurer are still not in agreement over the amount of money lost.
McCuskey ordered Boyer to pay a total of $132,670 in restitution to the two entities. He had already made restitution in the neighborhood of $16,000 when he left the bank by relinquishing his pension and 401(k) plan. McCuskey declined to impose a fine.
McCuskey said five years was an "intolerable time" for a case to be in the justice system but said in some respects it benefited Boyer because he was able to show he could live a law-abiding life.
Testifying in his own behalf, Boyer outlined his transformation from a self-indulgent, drinking gambler to a teetotaler who has put God and family first.
"Starting in 1997, I made fraudulent loans, took the proceeds and usually used the money for gambling or to make payments on some of the loans," Boyer testified, saying sometimes he spent as many as 16 to 18 hours a day gambling. He frequented the offtrack betting parlor when he lived in Danville and the gambling boat when the family lived near Peoria prior to moving to Danville.
Frooman explained that he made loans in bank customers' names and issued loans without their knowledge or approval. He kept the loans from his superiors by keeping the payments up, sometimes using funds from one fictitious loan to ensure interest payments were up to date on others. He also used funds from the fictitious loans to make payments on his own legitimate loans.
"It was sort of like a loan kiting scheme," Frooman said after the hearing.
Boyer said he also had a problem with drinking, which he stopped doing in 1996. But when he got control of his drinking, his gambling increased, he said.
Boyer said he contemplated leaving his wife and daughter or killing himself when his criminal activity came to light or worse. Instead he consulted a friend's minister and has since given his life to Christ, he said, and learned to put his family first.
Boyer said ever since leaving the Danville bank in late 1999, he has been employed all but for a couple of months, albeit in jobs making far less than the $52,000 a year he was earning as a bank loan officer.
In an almost 10-minute long statement to McCuskey, Boyer said the last five years of not knowing when his last day at work would be or if the basketball game he was coaching for his 13-year-old daughter would be his last have been extremely difficult.
"Every day I wake up with the guilt of what I have done and the hurt I have brought to so many," he said. "The past five years have given me a love for my family I hope everyone can experience."
Boyer's wife, other family members, his employer, minister and another friend, some of whom testified about his transformation, were present for the sentencing.
Wanting to minimize the impact on Boyer's teen-age daughter, McCuskey told Boyer he could turn himself in for prison April 29 after her basketball season is over.
Boyer had no prior criminal convictions.
You can reach News-Gazette staff writer Mary Schenk at (217) 351-5313 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.