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Man Sentenced in Bigamy Case

October 28, 1986

MARTINEZ, Calif. (AP) _ A prosecutor has praised four women who banded together to put behind bars a man they accused of stealing their love and money.

Donald Tanner, 56, pleaded no contest Monday to 11 felonies, changing his plea from innocent just as his trial was to begin. Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Gary Strankman sentenced Tanner to two years in prison for bigamy, grand theft and forged checks.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Coleman said he was glad the women wouldn’t have to ″bare their souls in public in a trial.″

″You have to give them a lot of credit,″ he said. ″They got the ball rolling. They did a lot of investigating and turned it over to authorities.″

Elaine Doehla of Concord, Barbara Duarte of Albany, Stacy Wyss of Concord and Evelyn O’Brien of Martinez became friends after learning of their common problem. They formed what they called a sisterhood of support and compiled stacks of documenation for police and the district attorney.

The four accused Tanner of unauthorized use of an automated banking card, stealing a rental car and cash, forging signatures on checks and taking checks from one woman’s closed account and depositing them into another woman’s account to cover his debts.

Tanner was also charged with being married to Duarte and Jacqueline Tanner of Concord at the same time.

Coleman said Tanner would probably serve 18 months. The women said they were disappointed Tanner didn’t get the maximum term of six years.

″That’s not enough time for what he did to us,″ said Doehla, a hairdresser. She said Tanner jilted her just before their planned wedding a year ago.

The four say a Hollywood film company has secured an option for the rights to a TV movie. They hope the film will cover their losses to Tanner, which they estimate at between $30,000 and $50,000.

″We just simply wish other women to be totally cautious of alliances they get into without proof of who the person is,″ said Wyss, who met Tanner at a singles dance.

Deputy Public Defender Jack Rauch said he told Tanner to accept the negotiated plea rather than risk getting the maximum sentence.

Tanner, of Concord, had denied that he had, as one of the women put it, romanced them ″out of their socks.″

″I’m not a Don Juan,″ he had declared in a jail interview. He said that one of the four was ″a woman scorned″ who persuaded the others to press on ″because they’re hurt, they’re mad.″

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