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10:48 AM Sat, Oct. 20th

Former county employee gets 8 years

Donald Condra

Donald Condra

KINGMAN - A former county employee has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

A jury found Donald Condra, 44, formerly of Kingman, guilty in July of four counts of forgery, two counts of theft, one count of fraudulent schemes and artifices and one count of tampering with a computer.

Condra worked for the County Public Works Flood Control District from 2004 to 2006. In 2006, he forged and then deposited several checks from T&M Ranch Developing and another company and then forged a Federal Emergency Management Agency Letter of Map Revision when T&M began to ask questions.

A total of $5,000 was taken from T&M and another $800 from C. David Custom Homes.

He also took four computers from the County Public Works offices.

In a rare moment, County Deputy Attorney Jace Zack, Defense Attorney Jeffery James and Judge Steven Conn all agreed that Condra lacked a prior felony record and that the crimes Condra was convicted of could be lumped into two jail sentences.

"I know the state would like to paint Mr. Condra as a con-man, but it doesn't bear out," said James. "The way he was caught was not how I would have expected an experienced con-man to get caught."

James pointed to the fact that the forged checks were deposited directly into Condra's account.

An experienced con man would not have done that, James said.

He asked Conn for leniency in his client's sentence. He pointed to Condra's lack of a criminal record, the good work he had done in his new hometown in Moriarty, N.M., and the letters Conn had received from some of Condra's supporters.

He also pointed out that none of Condra's mortgage company clients had come forward with any problems.

"I know the case impacted Mohave County," James said, "but there is no evidence that he engaged in the conduct with the intent to cause a problem for Mohave County."

James argued that Condra had already paid back some of the money that was deposited into his account and the county had recovered the computers.

Condra wiped his eyes as James read a written statement Condra had prepared for the court.

"My entire life has been dedicated to helping others," James read.

Condra asked the court to consider his volunteer work, the fact that he had attempted to return the money as soon as the bank notified him of the forged checks and his attempt to return the computers as soon as he found out that they were stolen.

He asked the court not to bow to political pressure in determining his sentence.

He spoke about how he attempted to help residents with poor credit get a loan or a mortgage for a home.

He asked the court to consider placing him on probation.

"We all deserve a second chance," James read.

Zack disagreed.

"He almost didn't get caught," he said.

Had a bank officer not checked, the forged Federal Emergency Management Letter of Map Revision would never have been discovered. It was the letter that led to the forged checks and unraveled the whole case, he said.

"The defendant went to great pains to disguise those checks," he said.

He also dismissed Condra's claim of support in New Mexico. Zack said that the County Attorney's Office Investigator Terry Flanagan found several people who felt that Condra had bullied his way around Moriarty.

"He's a totally unrepentant person. He continues to insist that he did nothing wrong," Zack said. "Society needs to be protected because he's not going to change."

Conn agreed that Condra did not appear to have a criminal record at an age where most people who have been in trouble have one. However, Conn seemed to be troubled by Condra's legal name change in New Mexico.

"To what extent do we know who he is?" Conn said. "I'm skeptical of his identity because of the web of deceit he has woven. It's hard for me to imagine someone could put together such a web. That's assuming he doesn't have any priors."

Conn also raised concerns about damage to the trust the public places in county offices and the possibility Condra had opened the county up to litigation. A civil suit is pending against the county and Condra.

"This is not like stealing a check from your cousin and taking it to Wal-Mart," he said.

"It's hard to assess this case without considering (Condra's) testimony at trial," Conn said. "I have dealt with a lot of con-artists. Mr. Condra struck me as that kind of person."

Conn also said that the jury was probably just as offended as he was when Condra tried to blame two other county employees for his actions during his testimony.

"He has shown no remorse whatsoever," Conn said. "I believe he committed perjury. I don't believe his testimony."

At the same time, Conn did not feel that Condra's actions rose to the level of a public fiduciary who embezzled more than $1 million a few years ago and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Conn decided on a mitigated sentence of eight years in prison with 29 days of credit due to Condra's lack of a prior record.

Condra was sentenced to four years in prison for the four forgery counts, one of the theft counts and the fraudulent schemes and artifices count.

Once he finishes that sentence he will serve another four years for the last theft count and the tampering with computers count.