OTTAWA — A former principal in Unverferth Motor Sales in Kalida was sentenced to six months in jail with work release Wednesday for stealing $414,085 from three banks.
Randy Unverferth, 61, of Kalida, said he never intended to steal but found the dealership he was running in financial trouble. He thought he could find a way out of the mess and lost everything, he said.
“If you would have said 10 years ago I would be standing here, I would say you are absolutely out of your mind,” Unverferth told the judge.
Unverferth was sentenced on three counts of theft, all fourth-degree felonies
Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers said Unverferth sold cars that were purchased with loans from the bank and did not repay the banks once he had the money. Unverferth requested duplicate title documents to make the sales go through and deceived the banks.
Unverferth said the dealership was struggling, but he thought he could turn it around. He said there were some bad years, but it always bounced back.
“When things were starting to fall apart five years ago, in my own mind, I kept saying, 'It’s going to turn around,'” Unverferth said. “I will not deny that I did things I should not have done. I never ever set out to defraud anybody of a penny.”
But Visiting Judge John Collier, of Henry County, said Unverferth knew what he was doing was wrong. Unverferth shook his head, indicating he did.
“Mr. Unverferth, the only thing I can say is many people with your background find yourself where you’re seated, and it happens. Hardly ever do they set out to do somebody wrong. It’s an all too common tale. You get behind and think you can catch up,” Collier said.
The judge ordered restitution of $174,102 to the Union Bank, $150,000 to Fort Jennings State Bank and $89,984 to the Ottoville Bank. He also fined Unverferth $3,000 and placed him on five years probation.
The courtroom was packed for the hearing, with spectators standing on the other side of the bar. There was no standing room in the gallery, and both doors to the courtroom were left open with people filling up half the lobby.
Unverferth acknowledged them when it was his turn to speak.
“I would like to thank all these people for coming. It was not necessary for them to do that. It’s unbelievable how much support I have gotten from this town since all this went down three years ago,” he said.