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Convicted of stealing more than $150K, man gets probation so he can use GI Bill money

JESSICA BIDWELL/STARS AND STRIPES

By KATIE KULL | Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne | Published: December 5, 2017

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Tribune News Service) — A man who admitted to stealing more than $150,000 from ATMs in Cheyenne and Laramie earlier this year was sentenced Monday in federal court to probation.

David Netterfield, a former employee of the armored truck company Garda, must pay $59,000 in restitution and will serve the first eight months of his three-year probation sentence on house arrest.

In court Monday, Netterfield’s attorney, Nancy Mullin, asked Chief U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal to sentence him to probation so he could go back to school and earn associates degrees in auto body mechanics and business administration with the money he earned on the GI Bill for military service.

Netterfield told the judge he regretted what he had done and vowed to make himself better if given the chance.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Forwood argued for a 12-month prison sentence, saying there was little reason why Netterfield committed the crime.

“We have a person with no reason to do these things all of a sudden saying, ‘I need a rainy-day fund,’” he said.

Freudenthal read letters from Netterfield’s friends and loved ones that spoke of his loving, charitable character. Many said they were shocked to learn he had committed such a crime.

But despite all of the kind words and character endorsements, Freudenthal, like Forwood, couldn’t wrap her head around why he did it.

In order to deviate from a calculated minimum 12- to 18-month prison sentence, a judge needs to make a character judgment.

“This is a big problem for me because you’ve been so closed,” Freudenthal said. “You’ve never honestly answered the ‘why.’”

Netterfield took a deep breath and then launched into an explanation. He said it was difficult to adjust when he got out of the military.

After trying several jobs and working paycheck to paycheck, Netterfield became frustrated with his inability to pay for expenses outside of monthly bills, such as a vacation.

“I understand that a lot of people don’t get why I would need a rainy-day fund,” he said. “… But I was trying to not have to worry about bills.”

He said he wanted to bolster his savings and make a better life for himself.

Netterfield outlined his future plans of owning an auto body shop and employing people like himself – convicted felons and others who are persecuted by society.

Freudenthal commended him for his goals.

“I appreciate your willingness to talk to me,” she said.

“These are difficult times for individuals in your situation.”

She suggested that Netterfield work on improving certain character traits – pride, immaturity and greed. But overall, she found him to be a good candidate for probation.

“You’ve got some things to work on, but you’ve made some progress,” she said.

©2017 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, Wyo.)
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