Convicted con man escapes jail sentence He must continue to repay his victims, judge orders

March 07, 1997|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Patrick Liggett left the Anne Arundel County Courthouse yesterday $75,500 in debt, but with reason to be happy.

He is free.

The 33-year-old welder expressed relief and remorse after Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Clayton Greene Jr. agreed at a hearing to let him remain free so he can continue to repay the victims he conned out of cash through a phony vending-machine business.

"I feel bad about what I did. I wouldn't want someone to do it to me," said Liggett of Glen Burnie. "Those people deserve their money back."

His victims agreed and said they preferred his staying out of jail if that means they'll be repaid.

"Let's face it, I'd rather have my money back," said Robert L. McCauley, 57, a retired asbestos worker from Waldorf who said Liggett bilked him out of $7,700.

McCauley said he won a $20,000 judgment after suing Liggett in Anne Arundel Circuit Court, but doubts he'll get that money.

Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. sentenced Liggett to 12 years in prison April 25 after convicting him of felony theft for setting up a bogus business, Vending for Dollars, and bilking investors. Liggett defrauded the investors of up to $7,700 each by promising to sell them soft-drink vending machines and find locations for the machines.

Thieme released Liggett Sept. 12, technically "modifying" his sentence, on condition that Liggett pay $900 a month until the $89,000 he owes is repaid.

Thieme, since appointed to the Court of Special Appeals, also scheduled yesterday's hearing to determine if Liggett was making the required payments.

Greene allowed Liggett to remain free and scheduled a hearing Sept. 12 to monitor his progress.

"What assurances do I have that these payments will continue?" he asked Liggett's lawyer, Peter S. O'Neill.

"You've got 12 years of assurances, your honor," O'Neill said, referring to the sentence hanging over Liggett.

Assistant State's Attorney Warren W. Davis III told Greene that Liggett has paid $13,500 of the $89,000 he owed.

Davis said that he didn't object to Liggett remaining free as long as the payments continue.

"It's a very easy case to prove from the state's perspective. If he stops making the payments, he goes back to prison," Davis said.

When he was arrested Feb. 12, 1995, Liggett had glossy brochures in his pocket, a Better Business Bureau plaque on his wall and a sample of his product, a sparkling new vending machine set up in a corner of the townhouse kitchen.

Police say he advertised in area newspapers and distributed handbills at shopping centers. Those who responded were directed to a Millersville townhouse, where they were told that they could earn at least $400 a week in profits if they invested $4,300 for a vending machine and kept it stocked with Veryfine soft drinks.

Liggett never delivered the vending machines and was not authorized to represent Veryfine products, police said.

Liggett said yesterday that his days of conning people are behind him.

He said that he is working "as many hours as possible" as a welder and that he is determined to pay back his debt -- literally.

"These people definitely deserve their money back," he said. "All I have to do is keep working, and they'll get back what they deserve, and I'll be OK."

Pub Date: 3/07/97

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