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Ex-school board chief arrested on embezzlement charges

Anderson hears nine felony counts Thursday in court appearance

Jun 1, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

A judge on Thursday set bond at $250,000 cash for the former bookkeeper of Star-Tech Inc. and Precision Analysis who is facing nine felonies alleging embezzlement totaling more than $2.5 million.

Gerald "Gary" Emil Anderson Jr., 54, appeared in Riverton's Circuit Court dressed in orange jail clothes with chains around his ankles and wrists as he listened to the charges read against him for the first time.

He faces four counts of felony larceny, three charges of obtaining goods by false pretenses, and two counts of conspiracy to commit felony larceny. The charges carry a maximum punishment of 90 years in prison and $90,000 in fines.

The conspiracy charges do not name any other individuals, but charging information lists some of Anderson's family members benefiting from the alleged embezzlement.

When asked on Thursday if more arrests in the case could occur, Fremont County Attorney Brian Varn said, "It's absolutely entirely possible."

Wednesday arrest

Lander police on Wednesday arrested Anderson, a former Fremont County School District 25 board chairman and high-ranking leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints locally, on a warrant filed May 22.

Charging information accuses him of embezzling from 2000 through 2010 by stealing money for himself and his family members including his son, Scott Anderson, his daughter, Beth Gard, and his sister, Karen Medow.

The criminal charges follow civil litigation launched by Star-Tech proprietor Charles Starks and Precision Analysis owners Cory and Heidi Fabrizius in 2010 that accused Anderson of embezzlement.

At the conclusion of a seven-day trial in Lander's Ninth District Court last December, a jury found that Anderson had taken close to $1.5 million while working as the companies' financial manager.

The criminal information filed against Anderson outlines numerous allegations of embezzlement committed by him that included creating bogus records to appear that Star-Tech owed him money.

Accountant's statement

A sworn statement by David A. Pope accountant Carmen Milbury alleges that Anderson through his Rocky Mountain Innovations company billed Star-Tech for amounts annually ranging from $90,000 to more than $500,000 between 2000 and 2010 in excess of $2.5 million total.

Anderson also benefited his family members in the scheme by overpaying them for loans made in their names to Star-Tech, according to court documents.

Scott Anderson made loans to Star-Tech totaling $18,000 in 2002, but his father paid him $25,000 for reduction of the note in December 2005 using a check signed by Starks, according to charging information.

In February 2006, Gary Anderson gave his son an additional $25,000 on the same note, while a year after he issued an additional $33,601 for the same purpose, the court documents allege.

"Scott Anderson received total payments between August of 2002 and February of 2007 of $83,601.41 on his total loan of $18,000.00," according to Milbury's affidavit, which claims Gary Anderson issued $58,601.41 of the amount.

Other transactions

Charging information claims the same for Anderson's daughter who allegedly received $119,000 between September 2000 and February 2007 on her total loan of $37,000 to Star-Tech. Anderson, allegedly, paid $84,834 of the amount to Beth Gard.

Karen Medow received $220,619 between January 2002 and March 2007 from Star-Tech payments arranged by her brother, according to charging documents.

"Medow never paid any money into Star Tech, Inc. and Star Tech Inc. never owed Medow any money," according to Milbury's affidavit.

Anderson also used Star-Tech money to pay for his credit card charges totaling more than $212,000 between 2004 and 2010.

In his defense in the civil litigation, Gary Anderson claimed the existence of an oral agreement with Starks "based, in part, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints' united order teaching" that aims "to achieve equality of wealth based upon the industry of the participants," according to court documents in the lawsuit.

Bond discussion

During Thursday's 40-minute court hearing, attorneys on both sides of the case argued about Anderson's bond amount that initially had been set at $500,000 cash only.

Deputy county attorney Patrick LeBrun argued the amount is not enough. He described the allegations as "virtually continuous thefts over a period of 11 years at least. He simply didn't get caught until 2010."

"The state could have charged literally dozens upon dozens of separate felony counts," LeBrun said of the individual allegations of theft. "This is far more than a mere property crime case."

He asked for a $2.5 million cash bond because it "appears he stole that much money." The amount is not excessive, he added.

"I'm not comparing him to Bernie Madoff in any way, but Bernie Madoff's bond was $10 million in cash," LeBrun said.

Anderson's attorney, John Schumacher, called the amounts "ridiculous." He said his client has been working with the FBI and Internal Revenue Service to resolve investigations into Anderson's financial affairs.

"He's cooperated with that investigation. He's currently in negotiation with that investigation that will result in one felony charge" related to tax issues, Schumacher said.

He said Anderson has been living in Rock Springs, where his children reside, but his client had been in Riverton for more than 30 years. He said Anderson has been getting harassed in Riverton.

Anderson's assets are frozen in bankruptcy proceedings initiated by his client, Schumacher said.

"He's going to cooperate. He's not a risk," he said.

Riverton Circuit Judge Wesley A. Roberts said the purpose of bond is to make the defendant accountable to the court. Upon questioning Roberts learned Anderson has no criminal history, arrests or probation.

"I want a bond in place to make sure we get and keep Mr. Anderson's attention," Roberts said.

Anderson cannot leave Fremont or Sweetwater counties and he must check in with law enforcement every day between 7 and 8 p.m. He also surrendered his passport to the court.

A preliminary hearing for a judge to determine whether probable cause exists for the charges was set for June 6.

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