After nearly a year of court proceedings, Joshua Lethbridge, former president of the Liberty Management Group, was sentenced to 12.5 years imprisonment and 12 years of subsequent probation on Tuesday, Aug. 8, for embezzling $260,000 over 10 years from The Mountain Club, a planned community in Prescott. He is also required to pay the full amount stolen back to The Mountain Club over time. Lethbridge pleaded guilty to the crime on June 13.
It was initially estimated that Lethbridge would only serve somewhere between two and 8.75 years in prison, as indicated by the standard terms of the presentence report. Once the Yavapai County Superior Court Judge presiding over the case, Patricia Trebesch, reviewed everything, however, she found an aggravated sentence was appropriate.
“I find that the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors,” Trebesch said.
More than 30 members of The Mountain Club showed up to observe Lethbridge’s sentencing. Several addressed the judge during the proceedings. One was Keith Fleming, a longtime resident, former Mountain Club board member and someone who considered Lethbridge a friend before his crimes were unveiled.
“We are a small but historic community made up of many good folks of all ages and backgrounds,” Fleming said. “We all put our trust in the defendant’s hands as our fiduciary community manager. We were simply conned by a masterful criminal.”
Another was Nelda Fetters, vice president of The Mountain Club’s board of directors. She spoke on behalf of the board’s president, Kevin Osterman, who was unable to make the sentencing.
“[Lethbridge] seriously harmed the future of The Mountain Club through his cold, calculated actions,” Fetters said. “This criminal is absolutely untrustworthy. Society must be protected from him for as long as possible.”
Lethbridge was allowed to speak as well before a final decision was made.
“I’ve been waiting a year to have an opportunity to beg the people of The Mountain Club for their forgiveness,” Lethbridge said. “There was never a time that I expected them to be hurt by a loss of funds. The only reason that I was able to do that was that I convinced myself that I could pay it all back.”
Since being arrested, there has been very little evidence showing that Lethbridge will be able to pay the money back any time soon.
“In order to pay restitution, Josh is gonna need to work,” Lethbridge’s attorney told the judge.
That, clearly, won’t be possible for some time given Lethbridge’s prison sentence.
“This is kind of a Catch 22 for the folks who are victims of this case, because the longer you are incarcerated, in fact, the longer it will take you to pay off the restitution,” Trebesch said to Lethbridge. “At the same time, these events took place over a period of 10 years, so I think 12.5 years in the department of corrections will give you an opportunity to think about the harm that you’ve caused.”
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