Mount Pleasant man pleads guilty for defrauding a Gilmer bank, gets 20 years, $10,000 fine

GILMER (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) -- A Mount Pleasant man who admitted defrauding a Gilmer bank out of almost $500,000 has been sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined $10,000 by a judge after pleading guilty to hindering a secured creditor, Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd said Wednesday.

Gary Lee Hammonds, 59, was sentenced Nov. 6 by 115th District Judge Lauren Parish during a 2-day non-jury trial in which he sought probation, Byrd said. The trial began Nov. 2, the district attorney said.
In a press release, Byrd said Hammonds in 2007 received three loans from First National Bank of Gilmer totaling more than $415,000 to purchase cattle. The bank's cattle were sold, but the institution received no repayment, Byrd said.

Hammond admitted lying to bank officials when showing them cattle during inspections over the next few years as "these cattle never belonged to him, but were other people's cattle," Byrd said.

The prosecutor told the Tyler Morning Telegraph he asked Judge Parish for a "firm and just" prison term of unspecified length.
Hammonds, who had no prior criminal record, could have been sentenced to 5-99 years, he said.

According to Byrd, Judge Parish said she imposed the 20-year term because of the high amount of loss to the bank. With penalties and interest, the total was nearly $500,000, Byrd said.

Former Titus County Judge Sam Russell, a Mount Pleasant attorney, represented Hammond. Bank president and CEO Kelly Stretcher testified during the proceeding, Byrd said.

"Our local banks are very important to our community. I hope that individuals who might choose to steal or commit fraud on them look at this sentence and think twice before making such choices," the district attorney said in his prepared statement.


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