Former Alliance Realty co-owners Robert “Zig” Ziegler and Roger Stone were sentenced in Ketchikan Superior Court today following a plea deal. Each pled guilty to one count of misapplication of property and received identical sentences.
Ziegler and Stone had separate sentencing hearings Friday, but both faced multiple charges of felony misapplication of property and second-degree theft. The two were under investigation for allegations made at the time they were co-owners of Alliance Realty in Ketchikan. Stone reached an agreement in May of last year, and Ziegler last November. Both pled guilty to one count of felony misapplication of property with all other charges dropped.
Under the terms of the agreements, maximum jail time would be 30 days and any additional time, up to six months, would be spent in community service. The judge could also suspend all jail time, requiring only community service. Both are also required to make financial restitution.
During both hearings, Assistant District Attorney Ben Hoffmeister says the embezzlement of funds occurred during difficult economic times. He believes the motivation was ego rather than greed.
“They got themselves into a hole. They made an extremely bad choice by raiding these trust accounts, and they couldn’t get themselves out. I think that’s all based on ego. What is comes down to is that their reputation was more important to them and the problems that they had created for themselves rather trying to atone for them.”
During Stone’s hearing, defense attorney Jeffrey Sauer noted that Stone has no prior record and as soon as the misappropriations were discovered, he cooperated fully with the
investigation. Sauer says a lengthy jail sentence would result in Stone losing his current job in Washington State. He says recovering financial losses is most important and restitution can’t be made by someone in prison.
Addressing the court, Stone apologized for his actions. He says he hopes to be able to continue to support his family while making restitution to those affected.
“I’m deeply sorry for the events that occurred. I probably should have pulled the plug much earlier, but in the heat of battle, when you’re trying to save something that you have in your entire life invested in, sometimes bad decisions get made. I made a very poor decision and I will regret that for the rest of my life.”
Stone has been making payments through a bankruptcy trustee.
During Ziegler’s hearing, defense attorney Sam McQuerry argued that Ziegler was completely unaware of the misappropriation of funds and Stone was fully responsible. He says Ziegler trusted Stone completely as the agency’s accountant.
Much of the discussion in both hearings revolved around a $10,000 check from the trust account made out to, and cashed by, Ziegler. Stone claims Ziegler asked him to write the check and that Ziegler was aware the money was coming from the trust account. Ziegler claims he did not know the money was coming from the trust account. He says his greatest error was not looking closely at the check and trusting Stone with all management of the books.
Presiding Judge William Carey asked Ziegler why, if this is the case, he chose to plead guilty.
“You recognize that the statute that you have pled guilty to states, ‘a person commits the crime of misapplication of property if the person knowingly misapplies property” Carey said.
Ziegler replied, “Your honor, I understand. The reason that I accepted my position right now is that I should have known. It is very accurate to say that I should have done more, and it was my responsibility to do more. And I didn’t. I had relied on others to do that and that’s my fault. But I have sold everything to make good on what was due. I have monitored the situation continually to make sure everything is being done. The opportunity that I have at this point is to hopefully get back to Florida as soon as possible so that I can be gainfully employed and make restitution as quickly as possible.”
Ziegler has been living in Florida where he has an Alaska import business.
Before making his decisions, Judge Carey said both men had already paid a very high price having lost their credibility and reputations. He says some jail time is appropriate, but noted both have been making restitution payments and seeing that funds are returned is most important. Carey imposed the same sentence on both men.
It was a suspended imposition of sentence. Stone and Ziegler received 75 days jail time, 15 to serve, with 60 days converted to community service. For good behavior, jail time could be reduced to 10 days. Both men will be on probation for 5 years, but the term could end sooner if restitution and community service are completed.
Stone requested to begin his incarceration immediately. Ziegler requested to begin serving his sentence on Saturday. McQuerry requested a no-contact order between Stone and Ziegler on behalf of his client. Judge Carey denied the request. Both men will serve their jail time at the Ketchikan Correctional Center and the community service in the states they now reside.