DuBois contractor to serve jail term for failure to deposit funds|
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
Keith Conrad, 51, of DuBois, a contractor who was convicted of theft by failure to make the required disposition of funds at a jury trial last month, was sentenced to serve six months to a year in the Clearfield County Jail by Judge Paul Cherry yesterday.
According to testimony at trial, in 2009 Conrad was hired by Ronald Ferry to build an energy-efficient three-bedroom home with a geothermal heating and cooling system at Treasure Lake.
Ferry paid Conrad for construction of the home as well as $28,074 for the geothermal system. Conrad subcontracted the work out to Boyer Refrigeration, Heating and Air of Altoona. The company installed the geothermal unit but Conrad never paid Boyer for the work. The company subsequently placed a lien on Ferry's home to get payment.
Conrad took the stand in his own defense and testified that the home ended up costing more than he anticipated and didn't have enough money to pay Boyers. However, Clearfield County District Attorney William Shaw Jr. argued that Conrad should have earmarked the funds Ferry paid for the geothermal unit and not used them for other purposes.
At sentencing, Conrad's attorney, Joe Ryan of Reynoldsville, asked that Conrad not be incarcerated and instead be given probation. However, Assistant District Attorney Trudy Lumadue argued that Conrad be given at least six months incarceration.
In addition to the prison sentence, Cherry ordered Conrad to pay of $22,686 in restitution to Boyers Heating and Air and $4,800 to Ferry. He was also fined $500 and given two years of probation.
In other cases, Attorney Ronald Collins filed post-conviction relief motions on behalf of his client, Kathryn Bembenic, 31, of Sykesville.
Bembenic was found guilty of aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI and DUI at a jury trail last March and was sentenced last month to serve 11½ months to two years in the Clearfield County Jail plus five years' probation by Judge Cherry.
According to testimony during the trial, on Oct. 14, Bembenic got in her vehicle after a night of drinking and while traveling south on U.S. Route 119 Bembenic's vehicle drifted over the centerline and struck a vehicle head-on operated by April McClain, 27, who was traveling north.
McClain fractured her hip in the accident, which required surgery.
Collins made a variety of motions including overturning her conviction and requesting a new trial, vacating all or parts of her sentence, reducing her restitution and requesting bail be set pending appeal.
Collins said the victim's statement at trial that her doctors told her she would need additional surgeries in the coming years should not have been allowed for it is hearsay because none of the doctors who testified at trial made any statements that supported this assertion. He said allowing this statement at trial prejudiced the jury against his client and the verdict should be overturned and she be given a new trial.
He also said the victim should not have been awarded anticipatory restitution of $100,000 because there is no foundation for this because there was no testimony from doctors or medical experts at trial stating the victim needs additional surgery. He also said the damages should have been mitigated because the victim was not wearing her seat belt at the time of the accident.
Collins also argued that he believed the sentence to be too high because his client has no prior record and she should have been sentenced on the low end of the standard range, which is six to 14 months.
Collins also said the sentences of aggravated assault by DUI and the DUI should have been merged and not made consecutive. Judge Cherry said he agreed with him on this point and vacated the DUI sentence.
On the DUI charge, Bembenic was sentenced to an additional three days to two months in the Clearfield County Jail.
First Assistant District Attorney Beau Grove argued that the length of the sentence and the restitution was appropriate but is asking the court to reconsider sentencing Bembenic to state prison instead of the county jail.
Cherry agreed that she be given bail and set it at $50,000 secured supervised. Cherry asked Collins and the District Attorney's Office to file briefs by June 30.