Three men who went from door to door last summer and accepted money for books they had no intention of providing were sentenced Thursday in Fayette Circuit Court.
Judge Ernesto Scorsone sentenced Jeremy Lee Albertson, who appeared to have been the organizer of the group, to the harshest sentence, two years in prison.
The 167 days Albertson, 29, of Muncie, Ind., has already spent in jail is to be credited toward his sentence. He had pleaded guilty in December to criminally attempting to engage in organized crime or a criminal syndicate.
Scorsone also sentenced Justin Clay Davidson, 19, of Sterrett, Ala., to 12 months in jail, but suspended the sentence and conditionally discharged him for two years, on a misdemeanor theft by deception count. The judge sentenced Henry Scott Siegman, 29, of Paterson, N.J., to two years in prison, but suspended the sentence and placed him on probation for four years, on one count of criminal facilitation to wit: engaging in organized crime/criminal syndicate.
During sentencing, Albertson apologized to the state of Kentucky and the city of Lexington. He said he and his cohorts planned to provide the books, but they were arrested before the orders could be processed through a Pennsylvania company.
Albertson, Davidson and Siegman, along with Tyler Matthew Smith, 18, of Sterrett, Ala., and Anthony Thomas Lackman, 20, of Phoenix were arrested July 30 after a resident of Gleneagles subdivision became suspicious of two of the men, who were selling books in that neighborhood. The five men were telling potential customers that they were selling children's books for a company called Academic Marketing Group and said the books would be delivered later, according to Lexington police. Police made a public appeal for any victims to come forward.
In September, each of the men was indicted on a felony count of engaging in organized crime or a criminal syndicate, 21 charges of misdemeanor theft by deception and a misdemeanor charge of having no itinerant license. Albertson and Siegman were also charged with third-degree unlawful transaction with a minor, a misdemeanor, for allegedly using funds they raised to purchase alcohol and give it to a minor. Lackman also was charged with one count of possession of marijuana and a count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Court records indicate that all accepted plea deals with prosecutors, who agreed to drop most of the charges and amend others.
In December, Lackman was sentenced to three years in prison for criminal facilitation to wit: engaging in organized crime/criminal syndicate. But the sentence was probated for five years. Smith is scheduled to be sentenced next week on a misdemeanor count of complicity to theft by deception. Prosecutors have recommended that he serve 12 months in jail.
At least two of the men face charges in Pulaski County stemming from the scam.
"This seems to be a cold, calculated enterprise," Scorsone told Albertson. "You're a smart man. You're educated," he said, adding that it was sad that Albertson's talents had been used for this type of enterprise.