Attorney: Guenther Devastated By Felony Conviction, But An ‘Honorable Man’ Who Never Should Have Been Charged
UPDATED 10:26 P.M. EDT (U.S.A.) Bob Guenther never should have been prosecuted for bank fraud in 1994, but accepted a plea deal after a cost-benefit analysis concluded his best chance to minimize a prison sentence was to accept the deal, Guenther’s defense attorney said in a 1996 memo.
Guenther pleaded guilty to a single felony count of bank fraud. In exchange, 10 other counts were dropped by federal prosecutors.
Rather than sentencing Guenther to prison, U.S. District Judge Paul Brown ordered Guenther to serve three years’ probation. Guenther ultimately paid resitution of $76,134 in full.
Michael McColloch, Guenther’s lawyer, said the sentence Brown imposed was an “extraordinary” downward departure of six levels under federal sentencing guidelines.
McColloch’s comments about the case are included in the memo, which Guenther provided this Blog today.
Guenther said today that he had expected to be sentenced to up to a year in jail.
“IÂ fully thought I was going to jail for 8-12 months,” Guenther said, in an email to this Blog. “And for what, absolutely nothing[.] [B]ut after 3 tours in Vietnam, a year at club-med in Seagoville Texas was not the end of the world.”
McColloch said the conviction was “devastating” to Guenther. He described his client as an “honorable man” who got caught up in circumstances beyond his control because a banking crisis in Texas spilled over into Guenther’s automobile dealership.
“I have no doubt that Bob would have preferred even a prison sentence to the burden and blemish of carrying around a federal felony conviction for the rest of his life,” McColloch said.
“This is the real tragedy of this case, that an honorable man who was only guilty of trying to save a business from extinction would be branded a felon by a system which shows little mercy to those caught up in its web by circumstances beyond their control, victimized by finger-pointing bankers and overzealous investigators,” McColloch said.
Guenther is the de facto head of the ASD Members Business Association (ASDMBA) Trust. He has been criticized by ASDMBA members for not providing transparent accounting of how the Trust spent money it collected.
Guenther was charged in Maricopa County, Arizona, with two felony counts of aggravated harrassment March 13. Police alleged he violated a court order that prohibited him from making harassing contact with Cheyenne Mountain and Affiliates, an Arizona company.
ASDMBA members said Guenther engaged in threatening behavior when his management of the Trust was questioned.
The Trust was created last summer to protect members’ legal interests in the AdSurfDaily case. Federal prosecutors said ASD engaged in the sale of unregistered securities, wire fraud and money-laundering, and also operated a $100 million Ponzi scheme.
This Blog broke the story about Guenther’s bank-fraud conviction on March 21. Guenther initially directed an email threat at this Blog over its publication of the story. This Blog did not reply to Guenther’s threat via email, instead advising Guenther in a post that it would not submit to threats and encouraging him to submit information he wished to be considered for publication in a nonthreatening fashion.
Guenther emailed this Blog this morning, asking in a civil tone for submission instructions. This Blog responded to Guenther’s email, and provided the instructions. Early this evening, Guenther provided the document he wished to have considered for publication, along with a supporting email.
We have made the decision to publish this story — and also a link to the document — because of its news value.
Read the document from Michael McColloch, Bob Guenther’s lawyer in the case. McColloch explains his point of view on the matter, saying he took over the case from an attorney who was ill — only two months prior to the scheduled trial date.