Laramie Man Gets Probation for Check Fraud
A man who says he simply didn't have the money to pay for a move after a problem with his mail was sentenced to a term of probation and ordered to pay the amount owed Tuesday in Albany County District Court.
Leonard Adam Helzer, 78, will spend two years on supervised probation with an underlying 18- to 36-month prison sentence. In those two years, Helzer will have to pay the $1,430 he owes the victim at a minimum of $125 per month.
Helzer, a military veteran who served from 1955-63 and was honorably discharged, pleaded guilty to felony check fraud during a June 30 status conference.
"I'm not sure I understand, Mr. Helzer, how it got to this point," Judge Jeffrey Donnell said in court Tuesday.
Helzer apologized to the court and the victim, Tuesday, saying "I had no intent at all not to pay."
He explained that he was supposed to have money to pay for the move five or six days before it was to take place July 25, but the funds didn't show up as anticipated. Helzer went on to say he wrote the victim a check for the amount owed and said he'd call when there was enough money in the account to cash the check.
But Helzer said a mistake by the postal service left him without the money he expected. With social security benefits as his only steady source of income, Helzer said he was left in a bind.
"It's been king of a tight year," Helzer said. "So I haven't been able to pay him the way I would like to."
Helzer added that rather than the monthly payments of $125 mandated by the court, he could afford and would like to make payments of up to $200 each month.
Defense attorney Randy Hiller mentioned that the county attorney's office worked with Helzer as much as possible to resolve the matter. Court documents show Helzer wrote the check Aug. 1 before receiving certified letters from the victim asking for payment on Sept. 8 and Nov. 12. A Laramie police officer ultimately arrested Helzer Nov. 30.
While the presentence investigation report recommended unsupervised probation for Helzer, the state felt supervision was necessary, purely to make sure the victim gets the money owed. Donnell agreed.
"I don't fully understand what happened, and frankly, it's a shame to see it come to this," Donnell said.