The man who scammed more than $86,000 from locals only to himself send the money to a Nigerian scammer got what he deserved.
It was no surprise when Michael Mihecoby was found guilty by a jury of two counts of third-degree felony fraud. The Farmington man later pleaded guilty to an additional five counts after more victims came forward.
A judge last Friday sentenced the 58-year-old to nine years in prison for his felony convictions. However, he likely will be out of prison in about 15 months, at which time he is ordered to begin repaying the money. Mihecoby was facing up to 21 years in prison for his crimes.
This is a sure sign to folks in the community that any crime committed, not matter it's degree, will be prosecuted. White-collar crime has just as much of an impact on people as other more violent crimes can have.
Let Mihecoby serve as an example of what can happen if you think stealing, borrowing, or doing anything else that may be misleading to others, may not seem like that big of a deal. Also, keep in your mind what happened to him. He stole from others only to turn around and be stolen from.
It's never OK to take from others. If you do, you deserve to be punished.
And if you think things like this could never happen to you, think again. The chief district judge is the case, John Dean, had to recuse himself from the sentencing after he learned he knew several of the victims involved. This just goes to show that criminals don't care who you are. To them, you're what they're looking for, no matter your age, race, station in life. If they can take from you, they will.
Officials believe Mihecoby scammed more than 40 people in an effort to send money to a man in Nigeria, who promised Mihecoby that he was the recipient of an $18 million inheritance.
Under the guise that Mihecoby owed outstanding property tax on land in Oklahoma that he was trying to sell, Mihecoby asked numerous people throughout the county for money. He promised to repay the money plus additional amounts once the land sold.
Maybe Mihecoby isn't a harden criminal with a long a rap sheet. Maybe he was just as naive in believing he was going to receive a big payday as those people who believed his lies.
The real tragedy is this story is that Mihecoby stole the trust of people he believed were his friends, which is something priceless and far greater to make amends for, Deputy District Attorney Paul Wainwright said. There is no excuse for what Mihecoby did.
This is a sad story for all those involved. Listen to your gut when the phone rings, a letter comes in the mail, or an email is received. If you're unsure what to do, ask someone. Sometimes, the smartest thing you can do is just say no, hang up, or hit delete.