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Anderson says 'not guilty' to $2.5M embezzlement

Aug 15, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

The ex-financial manager charged with embezzling from Star-Tech Inc. and Precision Analysis in Riverton pleaded not guilty to charges against him at his arraignment Wednesday in Lander.

Dressed in bright orange jail clothes with chains secured to his wrists and ankles, Gerald "Gary" Emil Anderson Jr., 54, entered pleas for the first time to charges prosecutors filed May 22.

Sublette County District Judge Marvin L. Tyler, who is presiding over the case, did not immediately set a jury trial for Anderson. Tyler said he would schedule the trial to happen within six months.

In charging documents, the Fremont County Attorney's Office accuses Anderson of embezzling more than $2.5 million.

Charging information accuses the former Riverton school board chairman 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.

No one else has been charged in the case.

Anderson answered with a simple "not guilty" when asked for his plea to each charge. He faces four counts of felony larceny and three counts of obtaining goods by false pretenses. The charges carry a maximum punishment of 70 years in prison and $70,000 in fines.

The prosecution dismissed two counts of conspiracy to commit felony larceny on July 11 when Anderson waived a preliminary hearing that bound his case over to District Court for further proceedings.

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 in December, a jury found that Anderson had taken close to $1.5 million while working as the companies' financial manager. The jury also determined Scott Anderson owed Precision Analysis $20,000 for company funds he improperly obtained.

At Wednesday's 70-minute hearing, one of Anderson's two defense attorneys in attendance argued for a lower bond. Anderson has remained in jail on a $250,000 bond following his May 30 arrest.

Attorney Jeff Stanbury argued to lower the amount to $25,000 cash.

"Mr. Anderson sits here with no prior criminal record whatsoever," Stanbury said.

Although Anderson has the option for a surety bond, "he cannot post that high of a bond," his attorney said.

Stanbury noted that Anderson, who is undergoing federal bankruptcy proceedings, is a lifelong resident of Fremont County, and his wife resides in the area.

"He simply cannot access the assets that are tied up in the (bankruptcy) proceeding," Stanbury said, adding that his client has been in contact with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"Your Honor, the risk of flight is around zero," Stanbury said. "Bond is not supposed to be punitive. It is simply to ensure his presence (in court)."

Stanbury said his client wants to live in Sweetwater County, where one of his children resides, and teach classes for oil and gas industry safety.

Deputy county attorney Patrick LeBrun scoffed at the $25,000 proposal, calling it "pocket change" for Anderson.

In the previous civil litigation, "he was found liable for well over a million dollars in conversion, so $25,000 isn't a significant amount of money" for Anderson, LeBrun said.

"I believe, as the Circuit Court did, in light of the amount of damage that Mr. Anderson is allegedly capable of causing, the current bond amount is fair and reasonable," he said.

After about 10 minutes to prepare bond conditions, Tyler announced he would keep the $250,000 amount in place but added the condition that Anderson can post $50,000 cash as a percentage of the total for his release.

As part of his bond conditions, Anderson would have to wear an electronic monitoring device and check into the Fremont County Sheriff's Office daily. He also would not be able to handle other people's banking accounts or his own without court permission.

He cannot have any contact with Starks and the Fabrizius couple, or access a computer without his attorney's supervision. He must remain in Fremont County and secure full-time employment.

When asked if Anderson could relocate to Sweetwater County, Tyler said he wants to know a specific plan for the defendant before allowing the move.

The judge plans to hold a hearing possibly on Sept. 5 to hear arguments about the defense attorneys wanting more information for the allegations against Anderson.

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