BANGOR — A former Bangor businessman found guilty in September of stealing money from a University of Maine fraternity was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in jail and four years probation.
John R. Moon, 46, also was ordered to pay $21,789 in restitution, perform 400 hours of community service during each year of his probation and was further barred from access to any business or personal financial accounts that are not purely his own.
Penobscot County Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm dismissed Moon’s claims that the amount owed the fraternity should be offset by more than $10,000 in in-kind services Moon provided while serving the fraternity — a claim Deputy District Attorney Michael Roberts likened to “a bank robber wanting to get paid for his time in the vault.”
Hjelm also dismissed the fraternity’s claim in its victim impact statement that the total damage resulting from Moon’s actions amounted to as much as $50,000.
However, the sentence handed down to Moon by Hjelm, who also presided over Moon’s trial, remains on hold pending the outcome of his appeal. A notice to that end has been submitted by Moon’s Bangor attorney, Paul Weeks.
It will be at least six to nine months before the appeal is heard by the court, Roberts said Wednesday.
Moon remains free on his original bail of $2,500 with the stipulation that he report to Weeks weekly. On Wednesday, Hjelm added the condition that Moon remain in Maine unless granted written permission to leave.
Moon’s felony theft conviction stems from a series of cash “advances” he helped himself to while treasurer of the board for Rho Rho Chapter House Association, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Sigma Chi fraternity at UMaine. He was treasurer from 1991 through 1994.
Rho Rho wanted to re-establish the Sigma Chi fraternity, which was disbanded in 1991 on the Orono campus after repeated bad behavior by its members. The organization hoped to raise $500,000 through bank loans and fund-raising efforts for the restoration.
While serving as treasurer and project manager of the effort, Moon started his own business, Marsh Island Development Co., in a downtown Bangor building.
During the trial, Weeks acknowledged that Moon’s business had run into financial problems and that Moon used funds from the Rho Rho account to help with his company’s cash-flow problems.
Weeks said Moon intended to pay all of the money back and kept detailed records of what he owed the association.
State prosecutors alleged that Moon wrote $115,000 in checks to himself from the association’s account, and while he sporadically paid back $95,000, he did so only when it became apparent his actions would be detected. Prosecutors said Moon took elaborate steps to hide his crime and made no attempt to repay the more than $20,000 balance.
The association’s president, Frank Pickering, became aware of the financial discrepancies in December 1994 when the University of Maine Credit Union informed him that the association might be forced to default on the mortgage of the fraternity house.
Though Pickering attended Wednesday’s court procedings, he declined comment on Moon’s sentence or the appeal.
Moon, who resided in King of Prussia, Pa., during his trial this fall, has since returned to Maine and is residing in an apartment in Falmouth, according to Weeks. He reportedly is unemployed.
Though the court and prosecutors said Moon had shown a lack of remorse for his actions, Moon apologized when given the opportunity to address the court.
“I am extremely remorseful for what I have done,” said Moon, a tall, gaunt, bespectacled figure who appeared in court Wednesday wearing a neck brace. As he rose to speak, Moon said he was “not feeling very well today.”
According to information Moon and his attorney provided to the court, the neck brace involved a recent operation Moon had to repair physical damage he allegedly suffered in a July car accident.
“I stand before you emotionally, physically and financially ruined,” Moon said, adding, “I’m a wreck.” He said that he wanted to move on with his life, to “make amends to my victims, society and God.”
Roberts had argued for a seven-year sentence, three years short of the 10-year maximum sentence, partly because Moon had shown no remorse “and continues to blame the victim.” Moon ultimately was sentenced to five years, with all but 18 months suspended.