Sheila McLaughlin reports:
Darren Courtney’s scam was elaborate.
The former legal officer for Fujitec opened up accounts with local banks in the names of phony law firms to swindle more than $150,000 over three years from his Mason-based employer.But when it came time for sentencing in a Warren County courtroom, Courtney thought 90 days in jail was too much time.
After getting a plea deal with prosecutors, he tried to strike another deal with the judge.
Courtney asked if he could get out of jail in 30 days if he paid Fujitec the $5,000 the judge ordered by then. He said he didn’t think he could stand being away from his three sons for 90 days.
Judge Donald Oda II gave a firm “No” in return.
“That’s part of your accepting responsibility, paying the price and that includes you being away from your children,” Oda said. “It’s an unfortunate fact for your children because they didn’t do anything. But for you, that’s part of this. You are going to do the 90 days in jail.”
Oda had allowed Courtney to leave the Warren County Jail for work on the 90-day sentence. He also sentenced him to electronically monitored house arrest for six months after Courtney is released.
Oda threatened to send Courtney to prison for 36 months if he doesn’t start paying the $5,000 to Fujitec. That amount represented the company’s insurance deductible on their claim to get the money that Courtney stole.
He will be on probation for three years after his sentence is completed.
Courtney pleaded guilty to one felony charge of aggravated theft in March. In exchange, felony charges of aggravated theft, telecommunications fraud and tampering with records were dismissed.
Authorities said Courtney created fake claims from around the country and would then have Fujitec issue checks to the phoney law firms who were supposedly representing the claimants in efforts to settle those claims.
Courtney lost his job at Fujitec after the thefts, from 2010 through February 2013, were discovered.
His attorney, Jim Hardin, said Courtney has since started his own construction, carpentry and contracting company and also works for Office Depot. He’s also trying to obtain a Realtor license so he can work as a property manager, Hardin said.
Courtney will lose his law license because of the felony conviction. His case must be reviewed by the Ohio Supreme Court’s disciplinary system before that happens.
Oda hammered that point home before Courtney was taken to jail.
He noted that Courtney had not only violated violated a position of trust at Fujitec, he did the same to his fellow legal professionals.
“It goes without saying. You are not to be practicing law any more at all,” Oda said.
Reporter Rachel Richardson contributed