The El Dorado News-Times today has a summary of the completion of federal prosecution of people who schemed to defraud the estate of a man worth more than $1 million thanks to a multi-million-dollar settlement of a case over his injuries in the Deep Water Horizon drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
The money belonged to Matthew Seth Jacobs, who received a settlement from his 2010 injuries. His decision later to use a Camden real estate agent, Donna Herring, to buy local properties proved fateful. She conspired with others to cook up a fake will after he died in a 2015 auto accident. It diverted much of his estate from his minor son to Herring’s daughter, Jordan Alexandra Peterson, whom Herring had reportedly encouraged to date Jacobs while she was in high school.
Herring was sentenced Monday in federal court in El Dorado to 41 months in federal prison. A co-defendant, Herring’s brother-in-law, John Wayne Kinley of Camden, received a sentence Tuesday of 12 months plus one day. He signed the false will, as did Herring’s sister, Marion Kinley.
Marion Kinley and Jordan Peterson are to be sentenced today.
The El Dorado account includes pleas for leniency by those already sentenced. Judge Susan Hickey was unmoved by Herring’s defense that she was not a “horrible person” but made a “horrible mistake.” The judge wouldn’t depart from federal sentencing guidelines for Herring. The prosecution argued that Kinley, a teacher who lost his job of 32 years after being charged in the crime, knew what he did was wrong and that participating because he didn’t want to anger his wife or Herring was an insufficient excuse. But the government didn’t object to a nine-month reduction in sentencing guidelines in his case.
A restitution hearing is set Thursday in the case. The government today filed its proposal on that matter, noting that originally the son had received only about $300,000 from a $1.7 million estate, with Herring’s daughter getting the rest in cash and property.
An attorney for the son was hired for a contingency fee to reopen the estate and that uncovered the fraud. That contingency fee, which turned about to be about $360,000, is not recoverable by law, the government has concluded, though $49,000 in fees by new attorneys for the estate are. In all, the government says the surviving son is due almost $200,000 for unrecovered assets and attorney fees. Some personal property, such as a boat and vehicles, were recovered.
UPDATE: Marion Kinley was sentenced this morning to 18 months in prison, with credit for time served in federal custody, plus three years of supervised release.
This afternoon, Jordan Peterson was sentenced to three years’ probation, with the first six months served in home detention with electronic monitoring. She may leave home only for work, church, education or purposes authorized by the probation office.