The next step in the Greg Solano case has been scheduled.
The former Santa Fe County Sheriff who pleaded guilty earlier this month to five felony fraud counts for embezzling county-owned items from the sheriff’s office and selling them for personal gain on eBay will have a restitution hearing on Aug. 18 at 9 a.m. in front of state District Judge Stephen Pfeffer.
That hearing will be to hammer out exactly what the judge thinks Solano should pay back in restitution, which has to be done before Pfeffer can proceed to a sentencing hearing. As you might expect, the special prosecutor Matt Chandler, the DA from Clovis, and defense attorenys Brooke Gamble and Tom Clark, certainly don’t agree.
This from my July 20 story on his guilty plea (published in print July 21):
Chandler says he will not only request an eight-year prison sentence but also will ask District Judge Stephen Pfeffer to order Solano to pay about $137,000 in restitution — $73,364 for the 330 items identified as being part of the fraud and $64,200 for the county’s expense in hiring an independent firm to conduct an extensive forensic audit of the sheriff’s office.
Solano’s defense team says restitution should total around $25,000. Many of the items Solano sold on eBay, Clark says, were used items, and restitution for those should be based on market value, not the purchase price of those items. The independent audit’s calculation of $73,363 is derived from the purchase price of all the embezzled items. Clark added that forcing Solano to pay for the audit would be “inappropriate,” a claim Chandler countered by pointing out that defendants are often asked to pay for investigation costs that arise from their crimes and asserting that the audit assisted in the investigation.
As to the proposed eight years in prison, Clark almost laughed off the suggestion as one that would be counterproductive if the true goal is to seek repayment to taxpayers.
“I’ve never had a client, and neither has (lead defense counsel Brooke Gamble), who has been more remorseful for the crimes he committed against society than Greg,” Clark said. “Putting him in jail won’t serve any purpose. He is a lot better to the community out of jail than he is in jail if restitution is to be paid back.”
Clark added that Solano is working three jobs — neither the attorney nor Solano would say what those jobs are — in an effort to save money to make restitution. During the plea hearing, Clark said Solano could come up with about $12,500 for restitution by the time of his sentencing.
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