Former landfill employees to serve prison time
NILES — Former Southeast Berrien County Landfill general manager Sonny Fuller will be going to prison later this spring after pleading guilty Wednesday to embezzlement over $100,000. Another landfill employee, Terry Snow, also pleaded guilty to embezzlement and a prison term.
Fuller, 47, of Buchanan, and Snow, 54, of Eau Claire, were in Berrien County Trial Court Wednesday for status conferences. Before their pleas, both had faced trial next month on the embezzlement charge as well as a charge of conducting a criminal enterprise.
Both are scheduled to be sentenced May 21 before Berrien County Trial Judge Charles LaSata although, Fuller’s sentencing might be delayed as he tries to gather money to pay toward restitution of nearly $250,000.
Fuller and his attorney, Sean Drew, said he will be selling a 2007 Ford Mustang he owns as well as two rental homes he owns in the city of Buchanan, and wants to do that prior to his sentencing.
Snow has agreed to pay $25,000 at the time of his sentencing and forfeit $66,000 police found and froze in the shell company’s bank account. He will also give proceeds from the sale of a 2012 Dodge truck he owns toward restitution.
He plans to actually start his sentence early and report to the Berrien County Jail April 11. His plea agreement calls for a minimum sentence of 20 months in prison to a maximum of 20 years and payment of nearly $250,000 in restitution.
Both men were terminated by the public-owned landfill board in July. The two were arraigned on two felony charges, each in mid-December. Fuller and Snow set up a shell company and funneled money to it from the landfill. Those payments totaled nearly $250,000 between December 2016 and June 2017.
Landfill board member and Niles Township Trustee Herschel Hoese testified in January that he had concerns about large payments to an unknown company and asked the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department to investigate.
Fuller will serve a minimum of 40 months in prison and pay nearly $250,000 in restitution in the plea agreement he made with the prosecutor’s office.
Berrien County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Smith said Snow’s minimum sentence will be less than Fuller’s in large part because Snow and his attorney “came to the table early” and were willing to cooperate with the prosecution.
“He offered information about receipts falsified by Fuller and was willing to give those and give up forfeited money,” she said. “We felt it was important to get the money back for the victim. He was more forthcoming and took responsibility for his part. There should be something for that.”
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