Poder Sentenced to 18-Month Term for Unauthorized Investing Spree
CHICAGO (AP) _ A former Arlington Heights treasurer who last spring fled a federal investigation on a moped was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in prison for transferring $136,000 from village accounts to his own.
″It was the product of someone snapping under pressure ... rather than someone setting out to line his pockets at the public’s expense,″ said U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur in sentencing Lee Poder, 42.
Shadur also sentenced Poder to four years’ probation, telling him not to take a job involving responsibility for other peoples’ money during that period.
In addition, the judge ordered 500 hours of community service and full restitution for $136,400 in village funds Porder transfered to his own accounts while making unauthorized investments of village money, including $20 million in police and fire department pension funds.
Poder has repaid about half the sum and owes $67,000 to the village.
Mike Siegel, a private attorney retained by Arlington Heights, said an audit showed the village lost at least $5 million while Poder was using its funds for unauthorized, high-risk investments.
″We’re going to try to recover that any way we can,″ he said, adding the village may file a lawsuit against Poder.
The defendant stared at the floor while the sentence was imposed. He told the judge he was sorry.
″I’ve lost the respect of my family, friends and the citizens of Arlington Heights,″ said Poder. ″I’ll carry the guilt of my mistake for the rest of my life.″
He pleaded guilty last month to charges of bank fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property while prosecutors agreed to drop seven additional fraud charges. He had faced a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
On May 4, hours after Poder was interviewed by FBI agents about his transactions, he picked up his moped at a repair shop and drove away.
He next turned up May 8 in Fort Frances, Ontario, where Canadian officials arrested him on grounds of entering the country with an unauthorized handgun.
Poder pleaded guilty to the weapons charge and served 21 days in a Canadian jail before being turned over to U.S. authorities.
Poder’s lawyer, Scott Lassar, asked Shadur for leniency, citing testimony from a psychiatrist who said Poder had suffered from severe depression because of conflicts with his superiors at work.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Pierre Talbert countered, ″A lot of people get depressed and feel bad in their job. Fortunately for us all, most people do not commit crimes in order to feel better.″
Shadur ordered Poder to surrender Sept. 22 to federal authorities, and recommended he receive psychiatric counseling during his imprisonment.