25 of embezzler's victims witness his sentencing

November 26, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

Twenty-five victims of an embezzler traveled here from Pittsburgh yesterday to watch the sentencing of the man who stole $3.1 million from their company's pension plan.

Monty Lilley, a Gaithersburg real estate developer, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered by U.S. District Judge Frederic N. Smalkin to pay $3 million in restitution.

Lilley pleaded guilty in July to stealing the money from the Childs Equipment Co. Inc. Profit Sharing Plan, which had about 100 members. Childs made office equipment shelving before it went bankrupt.

Lilley and his wife, Patricia, owned The Princeton Group, a real estate development firm in Gaithersburg, when they bought controlling interest in Childs in 1989 and assumed trusteeship of the pension plan.

Prosecutors said they would not charge Mrs. Lilley if she followed the restitution order for the next year.

Lilley used the plan's money for personal expenses and to pay debts accumulated by his real estate company. He left only about $7,000 in the plan, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher B. Mead.

"Poof! That's what it is. Poof," Edward Donahey said in exasperation. He had expected to receive a lump sum payment of $85,000 when he retired in 1989 after working 23 years as a carpenter at Childs.

Mr. Donahey and other victims trekked from Pittsburgh yesterday to the Garmatz federal courthouse. At the sentencing, they expressed anger that Lilley's prison term would not be longer due to federal sentencing guidelines and they fretted about their own futures.

Mr. Mead said that although the judge ordered $3 million in restitution, Lilley has only a fraction of that in assets. Mr. Mead said the plea agreement requires Lilley to forfeit his home in Gaithersburg, and that the government will sell it and send the proceeds to the plan.

The prosecutor said it was unlikely that most of the money would be repaid.

"I don't want you folks to think there's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, because there might not be," he told the victims after the sentencing.

Mr. Donahey, 65, said that in addition to losing his pension fund money, he has spent $10,000 in legal fees to try to recover it.

Instead of enjoying his retirement, he has resumed working at another company and is worried about his future.

"I'm going to have to work the rest of my life," he said. "What's going to happen when you can't work no more?"

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