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Calhoun sentenced to five years

Douglas Calhoun, former SSP Credit Union treasurer, was sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000 and ordered to make restitution of nearly $4 million to an insurance company for stealing money from the credit union over a 12-year period.

He appeared before Judge Frank McCown in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court for sentencing Wednesday with an audience filled with more than 25 former members of the now-liquidated credit union.

Calhoun was sentenced the maximum of 12 months on the charge of theft,

five years each on two counts of aggravated theft over $100,000 and 18 months on 10 counts of grand theft of amounts between $5,000 and $100,000.

Judge McCown stated that Ohio law mandates that the charges be treated as a single incident and that, although he was sentenced for each count, the sentences will be served concurrently, meaning that Calhoun will spend a total of five years in prison.

"These victims suffered serious economic harm and violation of trust that facilitated the theft," McCown said to Calhoun. "These were your friends. They trusted you. You breached their trust in the most grievous way you could. Fortunately, their life savings were not lost."

Gerald Hall of Kitts Hill, said he has known Calhoun for 38 years and worked with him for 17 at the Solvey Coke Plant in Ironton.

"It makes you realize you cannot trust just anybody with your money. Everyone trusted him their lives," he said. "The sentence should have been 15 years in a prison that is not a country club."

Ironton resident Phyllis Spanner agreed that the sentence was disappointing and sets a bad example.

"I think it was a smack in the victims' faces," she said. "That is good money for five years."

Based on the magnitude of the crime, and this betrayal of trust, Steven Tigges, a Columbus attorney representing SSP's insurance company, American Share Insurance, and Prosecuting Attorney J. B. Collier Jr. said they had hoped the sentences could be served consecutively.

"My client, American Share Insurance, stands here today as the biggest victim in this case.

ASI is the largest private deposit insurer in North America -- in business for more than 30 years," Tigges said. "Never in those 30 years have there been thefts of this magnitude. We believe this is the single largest theft by an employee of a financial institution in the state of Ohio."

Calhoun was charged with physically taking approximately $1 million.

However, ASI paid out $3.8 million that included the 8-percent interest that Calhoun had promised the members. Approximately 99 percent of the credit union members were reimbursed all of their money.

The thefts span from Jan. 1, 1990, to May 17 of this year. Tigges said when ASI, which logged more than 3,000 hours on the case, took over the financial books approximately $3.8 million dollars

should have been in the credit union. However, only $11,000 remained in the accounts.

McCown also ordered Calhoun to make $3,930,000 in restitution.

"Realistically, can we expect it will all be satisfied? Probably not," Collier said.

"He must serve the full five years. Is that enough punishment? We do not think so."

Collier said he believes that Judge McCown imposed the maximum sentence as allowed by law and that maybe the legislature needs to look at the law.

It was difficult to track all the money because too much time has passed, false records were kept and more than 100 cases were found where Calhoun asked for deposits to be made in cash, Tigges said.

"This was not just a case of theft, but 13 years of coverup as well," he said. "We believe this defendant has that money squirreled away somewhere."

Tigges pointed out that Calhoun's lavish lifestyle included purchasing four vehicles by paying in cash, investing more than $20,000 in the stock market, taking numerous vacations to Gatlinburg, Tenn., the Caribbeans, and following the University of Kentucky basketball team to many games, including those in New Jersey and Missouri.

Calhoun briefly addressed the court.

"I am very sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I have placed on my family," he said. "I want to apologize to all the members of the credit union. I would like to apologize to ASI. If there is any way possible to make restitution I will do so."

Calhoun and his attorney, Steve Rodeheffer of Portsmouth, said that they will not appeal the ruling. When contacted after the sentencing, Rodeheffer declined to comment on the case.