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Con or corruption? Betchley tries to modify sentence

By Cole Mayer
Staff writer

A man who pleaded no contest to charges of embezzlement, securities fraud and tax evasion tried to get his sentence modified on May 4, to no avail. But while deputy district attorney James Clinchard and 13 victims say Rick Betchley is a con man, Betchley claimed perjury and corruption in court is to blame.

The hearing centered around Betchley requesting El Dorado Superior Court Judge Daniel B. Proud to release him from county jail so that he could help with pending investigations on his case, such as the Franchise Tax Board investigating Tom Samlik, one of the FTB’s own investigators, over Betchley’s case.

However, after a half-hour of Betchley pleading his case, giving evidence that he might, in fact, not be guilty, Proud was not swayed to release Betchley from custody.

“If he thinks he is innocent, I will allow him to withdraw his plea and go to jury trial,” Clinchard said. Should it come to that,  Clinchard said he would seek 10 years in federal prison. But, the judge said the hearing was not the time or place to decide whether the plea would be withdrawn.

Betchley’s hearing ended with him still in custody, set for a one-year sentence as part of his plea agreement, having already paid hefty restitution and court fees.

“It’s sad that people like that are out there,” said Paul Norton, one of the victims in Betchley’s case. “He’s smart and could do legitimate business, but he likes preying on people.”

“He was a friend before this,” said another victim, Bill Weaver. “He has a way of twisting things to a great degree.”

Neither was entirely happy with Betchley’s sentence, but both said it was better than nothing.

“It’s little more than a time out a kid gets,” Norton said. “But any time in jail is going to be devastating for him, and he now has a record following him.”

Weaver also had “mixed feelings.” “The vindictive part of me wants him to rot in prison … I’m happy with 25 cents on the dollar and one year in jail versus getting nothing and 10 years in jail, but it’s a tough call. I got some restitution, he got some time and it’ll be extremely difficult for him.”

Norton wished he had done a more thorough background check to prevent all of events from happening. “In looking back, I should have dug deeper,” he said. “Nothing he does is wrong. He’s a con man. There’s an element of truth, but he uses it and stretches it to the extreme.”

There are no further hearings set for Betchley at this time.

Editor’s note: For more on this story, click here.

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Posted by on May 21 2012.
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