Thursday, July 30, 2009
Brizzi Justice: No Jail Time Time For Cemetery Owner Accused Of Stealing $27 Million
Robert Nelms stood accused of draining off $27 million in cemetery trust funds from Indiana cemeteries after purchasing Memory Gardens Management Corp. five years ago. Today, the Marion Co. Prosecutor's office entered into a plea agreement with him that allows him to avoid any jail time for his crime. "As part of his deal, Nelms would avoid prison, instead receiving an eight-year sentence to community corrections programs and two years on probation," the Star's Jon Murray writes. "If convicted of all of his half-dozen charges at trial, he would have faced a maximum 10 years in prison," he adds. Nelms and his wife, Debora Johnson, originally faced five felony counts of theft and securities fraud charges. The prosecutor's office earlier dismissed all charges against Johnson in consideration for her agreeing to testify against her husband according to Murray. Also, David Bechens, a Nobleville bank officer who served as the trust officer for these cemetery funds, reached a similar deal for agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors. Who was Nelms' attorney? Why, of course, it was Jim Voyles. I don't know how our public defenders in this county can stand to do their jobs when they see the way the criminal justice system treats their clients in this county compared to criminal defendants who happen to be politically-connected, or who have the money to pay for services of a highly-compensated attorney like Jim Voyles. The disparity in sentencing is staggering. So much for all that stuff they teach us in law school about equal treatment under the law.