The former employee of a Pasco construction company will spend almost two years behind bars for pocketing money from customers, then forging business checks to cover supplies and equipment for the projects.
Richard Robson Trott, 44, of Richland, was sentenced in Franklin County Superior Court to one year and 10 months in prison for the February 2011 crimes, which added up to a nearly $8,000 loss.
He pleaded guilty last month to second-degree theft and forgery. As part of a plea agreement, two more forgery charges against Trott were dismissed at his sentencing.
According to court documents, a co-owner of Talion Construction contacted Pasco police in March 2011 about an alleged theft by a former employee.
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Trott had been working with a Pasco couple on a garage addition to their home when he requested payment, court documents said. Homeowner Susan Boothe started to write the check for $4,259 to Talion but Trott reportedly interrupted her and asked that it be made to him personally.
Trott cashed the check, but never gave the money to Talion or deposited it into a company bank account, documents said.
In the meantime, Trott forged Talion co-owner Soren Peterson's signature on three company checks totaling $3,686. The checks were to pay vendors for supplies and equipment used for Boothe's construction job, but Trott had no authority from the company to sign the checks, court documents said.
Trott also refused to return company property after he quit his job, documents said.
Paul D. Hale, another Talion co-owner, wrote a letter to the court talking about how Trott "has caused so much damage in my life."
"I have spent over a year now and several thousand dollars attempting to right wrongs generated by Mr. Trott's dishonesty," he said.
Hale said he's had great anxiety and restlessness since Trott called him early in the case, demanding that he not testify. Trott was very angry, threatening and emotional, he said.
And despite being told never to call Hale again, Trott has continued attempts to reach him as recently as Sept. 16, Hale wrote in his letter.
"I understand the boundaries of the law and I don't believe that his crimes warrant the ruination of the rest of Mr. Trott's life," said Hale, who's company closed down, in part because of the aftermath of Trott's actions.
He's concerned Trott will "go back to his old game" once released from custody and "continue the cycle of destruction that he seems to have chosen for himself."
"My hope is that he can accept personal responsibility for the choices that he made and how those choices hurt others," he added, "and that he will have the compassion and fortitude to become something greater than what his recent choices have made him to be."
It is not clear how much Talion Construction knew of Trott's lengthy criminal past before he was hired.
Homeowner David A. Boothe also wrote to the court that Trott "caused delays with excuses that proved to be false and misleading" throughout the project.
Boothe said they paid when it was asked of them at different stages according to their contract, only to discover not all of the requirements had been met, including inspections and the ordering of materials.
Boothe said it led to a contract dispute, and he asked the court to give Trott the maximum amount of time for his crimes.
"I'm sure that even at that, when he is set free, those that he has hurt will still be paying not only in money but the hardships that it brings along with it," Boothe said. "Richard needs to learn once and for all that this kind of unethical and dishonest behavior will not be dealt with lightly."
Trott must pay $7,946 in restitution to Hale to cover the checks.
Trott had 16 convictions before this crime, including first-degree theft, second-degree possession of stolen property, two for second-degree robbery and 12 for unlawful issuance of a bank check.