After two years, Mike Greer, former treasurer of the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District, has accepted a plea deal on three felony charges.
Prosecutors recommended up to 2.5 years in jail and payment of $65,000 to the state’s RICO fund. He would also pay $13,000 in restitution to the mounted posse. Greer has already made those payments, according to the court.
Greer pleaded guilty to three of the eight counts charged by the attorney general in 2016. As part of the deal, prosecutors recommended dismissal of the other five charges, which included misuse of PSWID funds, theft and conflict of interest.
The attorney general’s investigation that resulted in the felony charges was triggered by a series of Roundup articles written by reporter Max Foster, before his retirement.
Judge Gary Scales explained that Greer could face from a maximum of 18 years in prison if he rejected the plea deal. However, Scales explained since Greer’s crimes were non-dangerous and non-repetitive, he might face little to no time in jail.
“They’re also the type of offenses that could result in granting of probation,” said Scales. “As a condition of your probation you could be required to serve one flat year in jail.”
Greer calmly agreed to the plea.
Scales said, “Did anyone threaten you or get close to you to get you to sign the agreement?” asked Scales.
“No sir,” said Greer.
“Did you sign the agreement of your own free will?” asked Scales.
“I did,” said Greer.
Yet, Greer looked decidedly uncomfortable when Scales asked him to take responsibility for each action to which he pleaded guilty.
Mary Harriss, the prosecutor from the attorney general’s office, went over each count, giving a brief description of Greer’s actions.
“As to Count 1, the defendant ... misrepresented his connection to the company the water district accepted a bid from,” said Harriss. “He voted in favor of those knowing he had a relative with substantial interest ... he received payments from that relative.”
Scales then asked Greer if he heard what the prosecutor said and if he agreed those were the facts.
Then Scales asked Greer if he had committed that crime.
“That’s what you did,” said Scales.
Greer hesitated, looking at his lawyer before answering, “Yes.”
Three times Scales asked Greer the same questions after Harriss read the details of the crime.
Three times Greer answered, “Yes, sir.”
Harriss said Greer has made restitution of the $65,895 for the amount he received from contract kickbacks and the $13,500 he stole from the Gila County Mounted Posse when he was the treasurer.
Before Scales set a sentencing hearing, Greer’s attorney asked for a mitigation hearing and for Greer to remain free.
“I would ask for 60 days and that the plea be accepted, but delay the terms of the plea,” said Weinstein. “And I would ask that Mr. Greer remain out of custody.”
Scales said he had the right to put Greer in prison immediately, but gave him a pass because he had paid back the money he illegally gained.
“I deferred acceptance of the terms because of your restitution payments,” said Scales. “If you hadn’t paid those, I would have just (put you in custody), no matter what they said.”
Scales then set a mitigation and sentencing hearing for Jan. 14, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. in Payson.
Two members of the current PSWID board sat in the audience listening to Greer, President Robert Arbuthnot and Treasurer Sharon Hillman.
“It is good this is over,” said Hillman.
The two said they are bracing for the next hearing of Rebecca Sigeti, the former bookkeeper for PSWID and Sunny Mountain Realty.
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