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First Walnut Ridge Bank defendant gets 57 months.

Brenda Montgomery was sentenced Thursday to 57 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for her part in stealing nearly $4 million from First National Bank of Lawrence County, where she was a teller.

Montgomery was the first of three co-defendants to be sentenced after all three pleaded guilty in May to a 10-year bank fraud conspiracy.

Cindy Tate, formerly head cashier, and Peggy Sutton, a former teller, were scheduled for sentencing on Friday, after press time, but U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker's acceptance of Montgomery's conditional plea suggested she would accept the same deal for all three.

The sentence came over objections from the family that controls the bank. The bank's CEO, Milton Smith, and his sister, Virginia Fields, asked Baker to reject the plea deal and send the case to trial.

In their deal with federal prosecutors, Montgomery, Tate and Sutton each agreed to restitution of almost $1.32 million for a total of $3.95 million. Their plea deals allowed them to withdraw their pleas if Baker didn't agree to a sentence within the suggested range of 41 to 57 months. Baker settled on the top end of the range, and ordered Montgomery to report to prison on Nov. 14.

-- Given Moritz

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Title Annotation:Legal
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Oct 3, 2016
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