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PRISON FOR BOAT FRAUD


A former Lake Havasu City businessman is going to the Arizona Department of Corrections after a Mohave County judge rejected pleas for probation Thursday. Tim McDonald, 48, was given a 4.5-year prison sentence, the maximum punishment possible under terms of a plea agreement accepted by judge Billy Sipe.


Deputy Mohave County attorney James Schoppmann told a trial jury that McDonald formerly operated the Offshore Custom Marine boat consignment business in Lake Havasu. Schoppmann said the enterprise would sell boats for people who agreed to pay 10% commission.


Schoppmann told jurors that McDonald kept the proceeds, depriving customers of payment for their watercraft. Defense attorney Mark Mendoza told jurors that McDonald never intended to steal from customers and that he used their money in a failed bid to keep his struggling business afloat.


The jury found McDonald guilty of theft in February, but was unable to reach unanimous verdicts on thirteen other counts. Those were resolved with McDonald’s guilty plea to attempted fraudulent schemes.


Mendoza and McDonald requested probation so McDonald could work to use income to pay restitution to his victims.


Judge Sipe said that victims were financially devastated by McDonald’s criminal conduct and that he would have spent life in prison had he been convicted of all counts. He said he could not overlook the fact that McDonald essentially stole $915,000 from fourteen victims.


Sipe said he was ``almost offended’’ when McDonald testified at trial, blaming his wife and business for the plight of his victims.


``You took no responsibility whatsoever,” Sipe told McDonald. ``You basically tried to disassociate yourself from any of those losses.”


In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Sipe ordered that McDonald reimburse his victims. Their losses range from $5,000 to $305,000.

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