Judge Curtis Collier on Wednesday gave probation to the final four defendants in the Pilot Travel Center fraud case, while requiring three of the defendants to perform community service.
None of them will serve federal prison terms. Holly Radford and Janet Welch received two years of probation and 100 hours of community service, Ashley Judd was sentenced to 18 months of probation and 50 hours of community service, and Lexie Holden will serve two years of probation and zero hours of community service. Ms. Holden has recently started a business and the judge determined that a requirement of community service might detract from that endeavor.
Due to the “meaningful, significant, and/or extraordinary” cooperation supplied by these four defendants, there was a recommendation from the U.S. Government for a substantial departure downward in the sentencing guideline range. The maximum recommended sentence was reduced to 0-6 months for all four defendants from a high of 15-21 months for Lexie Holder and Janet Welch. Holly Radford was previously at a level of a possible prison term of 12-18 months and Ashley Judd had been facing a possible 4-10 months.
Each attorney made statements to the judge, in part outlining the contributions the defendants had made to supporting the government’s cases.
Each of the women apologized in their statements. Janet Welch said, “I would truly like to apologize to everyone who was affected by my poor decisions.” She referenced all the people she felt she had let down: her husband, children, community and church. Her son had written a reference letter in which he said, “Her bad deed is not her.” She said she appreciated the sentiment yet acknowledged, “I didn’t stand up and say no. I went along with it.” She said she has relied on her support network and said that she was working to make amends. Ms. Welch said, “I hate that I let them down…I won’t risk losing them again.”
Ashley Judd became choked with tears while she spoke about lessons she had learned and what she will pass along to her son. While she was sorry to the people who had suffered from the fraud, she also said, “I’m sorry to my parents…I’m truly sorry.” She emphasized that they raised her better than this.
Holly Radford was the third person to sign a plea deal with investigators in June of 2013. She accepted responsibility early on and, according to her attorney, Francis Lloyd, Jr., was unwavering. She said, “I knew it was wrong and I did it anyway. I did ask questions…I should have pursued my questions further, even outside the company.” She said that she was considering speaking with high school students or people new to the business world about her experiences. “I’ve learned from my mistakes and I will be acutely aware of my actions in the future.”
Lexie Holden was one of the first to speak with investigators on April 17, 2013. Her attorney, Guy Blackwell, emphasized how she cooperated with investigators before her boss, Brian Mosher, did and how that took courage. She said, “It has been 1,850 days since I first stood in front of a judge and admitted my guilt…I am extremely sorry, it will haunt me the rest of my life.” While she attributed her youth and inexperience as factors, she admitted that there was no excuse for her actions. “I made a mistake in not questioning the actions of my co-workers…I am guilty of wire fraud.”
The judge emphasized how important it was that the defendants’ statements “reflected on where you have been.” Judge Collier went on to recommend that UT Knoxville business school and business schools in genera, used this case as the basis for case studies to guide people. “You all have faced dark clouds, rough and rocky seas. Life begins anew today,” said Judge Collier. He went on to say, “One of the good things that has come out of this is the outpouring of support. It’s important to maintain those relationships.”
The community service must be completed with one of these three organizations: Children’s Advocacy, Boys’ and Girls’ Club, or Urban League. As Ms. Radford lives in another state, the judge said she should work with her probation officer if a branch of these organizations was not located near her home.