UPDATE: June 19, 2012 11:43pm
A man busted for swindling hundreds of thousands of dollars from elderly people and a little league will spend years behind bars.
Tallahassee's Robert Feiss pleaded no contest to charges of grand theft, money laundering, exploitation of the elderly and fraud.
On Tuesday evening, a judge handed down a sentence.
The Chaires-Capitola Little League baseball field used to be a place for first home run hits and high-fives from teammates. But since 2011, there's been a shadow over the league.
Feiss served as the league's treasurer and had been cheating the league out of thousands of dollars.
Feiss will now spend the next ten years and eight months behind bars for that crime, and for stealing from two elderly clients through his job with State Farm.
In total, Leon County sheriff's investigators say Feiss stole more than $700,000.
"He convinced them that he was a man that could be trusted, that this was just a mistake, " said Jack Campbell, the prosecutor on the case.
Before being sentenced Feiss tearfully addressed the court, and asked the judge for mercy.
"My world spun out of control and I thought the only way out was to kill myself, " said Feiss.
He shared with the court his story of how since college he found himself in over his head financially and it only snowballed from there. Feiss told the judge he would spend money not only on himself but also to help others.
"I paid for my lifelong childhood friend and his wife to have In vitro fertilization," said Feiss.
He paid for that with money that was never his. Now all the lending, borrowing and stealing bought him a pair of handcuffs and a new home behind bars.
The judge sentenced Feiss to ten years and eight months in jail followed by ten years of probation. He also barred Feiss from taking any position, volunteer or for employment, that would put him in charge of money.
To this day, Feiss says he cannot account for how each penny of that more than $700,000 was spent, and neither can forensic detectives hired by the prosecution. The prosecution used that information to insinuate that Feiss may have a secret stash of cash. The defense argued that Feiss was just really bad with money and did not keep records, and that's why he cannot account for every purchase made over the years.
Feiss was taken into custody immediately after the sentencing.
UPDATE: June 19, 2012
Robert Feiss receives 10 years 8 months prison time followed by 10 year probation.
Robert Feiss is addressing the court with his story of how he says he ended up swindling the elderly and a little league. He told the judge a tearful story of years of actions that dug him deeper and deeper in debt.
When he could take it no more and could not see a way out, he planned his suicide. But his wife found his goodbye letters and after seven hours on the phone she was able to talk him out of it.
He's accused of stealing almost a quarter of a million dollars from two elderly State Farm customers, where he worked. And then he's accused of laundering that money through the Chaires-Capitola Little League, of which he served as treasurer. He pleaded no contest in May.
Feiss received 10 years 8 months prison time followed by 10 year probation.
May 8, 2012 by Julie Montanaro
Robert Feiss has entered no contest pleas to grand theft, money laundering, exploitation of the elderly and fraud.
He faces up to 190 years in prison.
Feiss is accused of stealing more than $700,000 from two elderly customers at the State Farm office where he worked. He is accused of laundering the money through the Chaires-Capitola Little League.
Sentencing is set for June 19th at 3pm.
UPDATED 1.20.2012 2pm by Julie Montanaro
A Tallahassee man is accused of stealing nearly three quarters of a million dollars from elderly insurance customers and deputies say he was laundering the money though the Chaires Capitola Little League.
In December 2011, Leon County Sheriff's Detectives arrested 42 -year-old Robert Feiss for grand theft and estimated losses to his employer, State Farm, and the little league at roughly $10,000.
Detectives seized three of Feiss' computers and the little league's financial records and continued to investigate.
They are now charging Feiss with grand theft in excess of $700,000, money laundering, fraud and exploitation of the elderly.
Detectives say Feiss sold fake certificates of deposit from State Farm Bank to a 94 year old man and a couple in their 70's.
Deputies say on seven different occasions Feiss went to the home of the 94 year old man. Each time, they say, the man handed over a signed, blank check with which to buy the Cd's.
Detectives say Feiss never bought those Cd's and from August 2009 until March 2011, Feiss stole $224,000 from the man.
Detectives say the couple in their 70's met Feiss at their bank on three different occasions and handed over cashier's checks to Feiss. Those cashier's checks totaled $500,000.
Deputies say Feiss deposited all of that money into the Chaires Capitola Little League account - where he served as treasurer - and would then write personal checks to himself or would transfer the money to other accounts.
Detectives say Feiss used at least $292,500 of that money to make improvements at his home on Summerlin Drive.
We have a call in to Feiss' attorney to see if he has anything to say about this week's arrest.
The couple who was victimized did not want to comment on Feiss' arrest or their loss of $500,000.
We are trying to reach the 94 year old man for comment.
We are also trying to reach State Farm Agent Tom Graham for comment. He is Feiss' boss and the first to discover and report the discrepancies to the Leon County Sheriff's Office.
Note: Probable Cause Attached Above
Tallahassee, Florida - January 20, 2012 by Julie Montanaro
The Leon County Jail booking report shows that Robert Feiss, who was accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the Chaires Capitola Little League in December 2011, has been arrested again.
This time, Feiss is facing charges of money laundering, grand theft in excess of $100,000, exploitation of the elderly, and fraud.
We are waiting for more information about the victims of these crimes and the outcome of Feiss' first appearance.
During December of 2011, Leon County Sheriff’s Financial Crimes Detectives arrested Robert G. Feiss after a fraud investigation involving the Chaires Capitola Little League. During that investigation, detectives located information and evidence that indicated Feiss may have been responsible for committing additional acts of fraud.
Detectives continued to investigate financial statements and conduct interviews into suspicious activity which confirmed Feiss had sold several fictitious certificates of deposit since 2010. Detectives have
confirmed that a 94 year old man purchased $224,000.00 worth of fictitious bank CD’s from Feiss. A couple in their seventies purchased $500,000.00 worth of the fictitious bank CD’s. Feiss deposited these large amounts of money into the Chaires Capitola Little League account and then would write personal checks to himself or transfer the money elsewhere.
Sheriff Larry Campbell stated, “I’m glad the detectives continued to work diligently as this investigation progressed, but we are all deeply saddened to learn that one man could have taken so much from our
December 15, 2011 by Julie Montanaro
A Leon County man is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the Chaires Capitola Little League.
Leon County deputies say Robert Feiss stole money from the little league where he was served as treasurer and stole money from his employer as well.
Feiss was an office manager at a State Farm insurance office in town.
Deputies say they discovered Feiss was writing unauthorized checks on both accounts.
"Right now we're looking at about $10,000 being stolen from the two organizations, one of them being the Chaires Capitola Little League," said LCSO Spokesman Tony Drzewiecki. "Right now we are continuing our investigation, however more charges could be filed in the future."
We tried to reach the president of the Chaires Capitola Little League, but have not yet heard back. Another board member declined comment.
Robert Feiss' attorney, Ryan Davis, declined comment too, saying only that Feiss has entered a not guilty plea.
Feiss faces two counts of grand theft.