Sentencing for Larry Webb, the former deputy director of the Upper Cumberland Development District, has been postponed until next month after a federal judge last week rejected a plea deal.
Webb, who entered a voluntary guilty plea on August 17, 2015 to one count of bank fraud in the “Living the Dream” investigation, was to have been sentenced Thursday, December 8 but that has been postponed until January 9.
Under terms of his plea agreement, Webb was to have avoided paying a fine in the case. However, a court order signed last Friday, December 9 by U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr. stated that “the court believes a fine in the $6,000 range may be appropriate, considering Defendant (Webb’s) cooperation with the Government, his offense conduct, and ability to pay".
Webb was indicted with former UCDD director Wendy Askins in 2013 on various federal bank charges, including conspiracy, theft of government money, bank fraud, money laundering, and making a false statement.
Askins was accused of diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars of agency money into a million-dollar luxury home in rural Putnam County called "Living the Dream". What was intended to become a home for needy seniors also became Askins' home.
Although Webb's attorney Ed Yarbrough said he never profited from the scheme, Webb admitted that he was guilty of Count Eight of the federal indictment, which accused him and Askins of securing a $250,000 loan from the Bank of Putnam County "for their own use and benefit" and "falsely representing" that it was for a project that had been approved by the UCDD board of directors."
Askins entered a plea on August 31 to two counts of theft from a federally-funded entity stemming from the “Living the Dream investigation and was sentenced on October 28 to 18 months in federal prison. The sentence will run concurrently with a state sentence after her plea in Putnam County Criminal Court on October 31 to forgery over $60,000. After her release, Askins will be on supervised probation for two years. She must also pay restitution of $233,000 to the UCDD.
In recently filed court documents, Webb’s attorney is asking the court to adopt the plea agreement. “This plea was entered pursuant to extensive negotiations between Webb and the Government which resulted in a decision by Webb to offer testimony against his co defendant Askins. Webb submitted to numerous debriefing sessions by the Government and was prepared to testify at trial. However, Askins entered a plea of guilty and has now been sentenced as a result of that plea," stated Yarbrough.
“Webb would submit to the Court that he has never before been convicted of a criminal offense and, indeed, has never been charged with one. His lack of a previous record and good background result in a guideline offense level of seven (7), which carries a range of punishment of zero to six months. As a result of the plea agreement in this case the Government is recommending that Webb be sentenced to time served and receive three years of supervised release. The Government is further recommending that there be no fine or restitution ordered in this case. The remaining counts of the Indictment should be dismissed at sentencing,” Yarbrough said.
“As noted in the Government’s memorandum, the original presentence report filed in this case recommended a fine in the amount of $2,000. Inasmuch as this would violate the plea agreement in the case and is opposed by the Government, Webb submits that this recommendation should not be followed and that no fine should be imposed in this case”.
“Webb has fully disclosed all of his conduct in this matter and has assisted the Government extensively in their preparation for the trial of Wendy Askins. Webb was fully prepared to testify as a prosecution witness had that case gone to trial.”
“Webb agrees with the analysis contained in the Government’s memorandum that all appropriate sentencing guidelines and policies dictate that the plea agreement should be approved in this case.”
“Therefore, Webb respectfully submits that he should be sentenced to time served in this case and that a three year period of supervised release be imposed according to the agreement previously submitted to the Court,” Yarbrough concluded.
Court documents relating to Webb's plea agreement state that, “On February 2, 2010, Webb incorporated “Living the Dream/Independent Living for Seniors, Inc.” While “Living the Dream” had the appearance of being a project approved by the Cumberland Regional Development District, of which Webb was a director, it was in fact owned and operated by Webb and Askins. A portion of the property was intended to be used as an independent living facility, while another portion was used as a luxury home for co-defendant Askins.”
“In order to partially fund the purchase of the “Living the Dream facility, Webb and Askins obtained a loan from the Bank of Putnam County. To obtain this loan, Webb made false statements to loan officers relating to the true nature of “Living the Dream”. Specifically, Webb told the loan officers that “Living the Dream” was an approved UCDD/CRDC project. Additionally, Webb presented false documents, including CRDC resolutions dated May 7, 2010 purportedly authorizing a loan application for “Living the Dream” in the amount of $750,000. As Webb very well knew, the CRDC had not approved the “Living the Dream” project, and had not authorized a $750,000 loan application,” the court documents state.
“In reliance upon these false statements and representations, the Bank of Putnam County on May 27, 2010 approved a loan in the amount of $250,000 for “Living the Dream”. Webb and Askins applied the loan proceeds to the purchase of “Living the Dream”. The bank would not have approved the loan or disbursed funds had it known UCDD and/or CRDC did not approve of the project or the loan application”, the court documents continued
“The bank eventually foreclosed on the property and subsequently recovered all of its loan proceeds”.
Askins reportedly will serve her sentence in the Federal Correctional Institution in Aliceville, Alabama, a medium-security United States federal prison for female inmates. She is to report January 9. Askins originally was scheduled to be housed at a federal facility in Alderson, West Virginia.