- Associated Press - Thursday, October 27, 2016

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - The former chief financial officer of Vann’s Inc. was sentenced Thursday to 14 months in prison after previously pleading guilty to conspiring to defraud the employee-owned electronics and appliance retailer, causing it to file for bankruptcy in 2012.

Paul Lyn Nisbet and former CEO George Leslie Manlove were charged last year with more than 200 federal counts. According to prosecutors, the two created shell corporations and had Vann’s lease property from them without the permission from the rest of the board of directors.

Manlove is accused of using company money for personal expenses like tuition for himself, vacations and jewelry for family members and membership fees at private clubs, with Nisbet’s knowledge and approval, according to The Missoulian (https://goo.gl/VGNbr2 ).

“This is not a situation where Mr. Nisbet simply failed to yell fire as the house burned,” U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said at Thursday’s hearing.

Nisbet, whose restitution hearing is set for Nov. 16, struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy. The other charges against him were dropped.

Defense attorney Colin Stephens said Nisbet was “caught between a rock and a hard place,” referring to the board of directors and the “somewhat megalomaniac” Manlove. He added that public stigma of the charges and being “castigated in the media” has already had an effect.

Mr. Nisbet has lost the lion’s share of his good name,” Stephens said.

Nisbet himself said over the 12 years he worked for Vann’s, he always tried to help it to be successful.

“There is nothing I wouldn’t do for that company,” he said. “I’m incredibly sorry and remorseful.”

Manlove’s trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 9.


Information from: Missoulian, https://www.missoulian.com

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