Real estate developer C. Dean Larsen was sentenced to six months in the Salt Lake County Jail Monday, but a state judge put the sentence on hold until a March 2 hearing on Larsen's request for a new trial.
Third District Judge Michael Murphy imposed the sentence more than two years after a jury concluded that Larsen stole $834,000 from his investors when he moved the money from one limited partnership to several others.The money was used trying to salvage the other limited partnerships.
Murphy's sentence was much lighter than the 1- to 15-year sentence recommended for felony theft.
An earlier flip-flop in the case by former 3rd District Judge Leonard Russon prompted Murphy's mercy, he said.
When the jury returned the guilty verdict against Larsen in December 1990, Russon set aside the verdict and entered a finding of not guilty.
He said at the time that Larsen's actions did not constitute a crime.
However, the Utah Court of Appeals reversed Russon's ruling, imposed the guilty verdict again and ordered a state judge to sentence Larsen for his crime.
But Russon's conclusion that Larsen was not guilty carried weight with Murphy, the judge said Monday.
Murphy did not "have the intimate knowledge of the facts and evidence as Judge Russon," he said in his ruling. "Some deference must be accorded to the expressed views of Judge Russon without diminishing the effect of the appellate court's reversal of Judge Russon's judgment of acquittal."
Murphy said the six-month sentence was the middle ground between Russon's opinion that Larsen was not guilty and the Appeals Court's decision.
Murphy said he was also swayed by Larsen's unblemished record prior to 1990 prosecution for securities fraud and theft.
Murphy also concluded that Larsen and his family did not personally profit from the money.
Attorneys with the Utah attorney general's office filed a memo in November outlining their claim that Larsen did personally profit from his theft.
However, Larsen's attorney, Larry Keller, filed a memo on Larsen's behalf claiming Larsen did not.
Larsen was also placed on three years probation and ordered to pay $834,000 in restitution.
Larsen has been sentenced to nine years in the Utah State Prison on 18 counts of securities fraud. He was ordered to pay more than $900,000 restitution in that case.
However, that sentence is on hold while the Utah Supreme Court reviews his case.
Keller must file his motion for a new trial by Feb. 5.
Larsen is the former president of Granada Inc., a real estate development company that operated from 1970 to 1987, when it went into bankruptcy. Hundreds of investors - primarily doctors, dentists and their employees - claimed they lost more than $50 million.
Larsen blamed the losses on a sharp drop in the value of Utah real estate during the late `80s.
But the Utah attorney general's office filed a 50-charge complaint against Larsen, accusing him of lying to investors and mismanaging their money.
That complaint resulted in the two trials; one for securities fraud and a second on the theft charge.