EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported Fred Layman's ownership status of North Augusta country club.
Fred Layman stood before a federal judge Wednesday as a broken man, pausing to collect his composure as he read an apology he spent a year writing.
Seven months after pleading guilty to charges of mortgage fraud, the North Augusta Country Club owner asked for a mulligan from U.S. District Judge Randall Hall.
“I made a decision five years ago that went against my upbringing,” Layman said. “There are no excuses, and I take full responsibility.”
Layman bought the 135-acre country club in April 2007. Its main building was destroyed in a suspicious fire four days later.
The apology capped a two-hour sentence hearing for the Martinez businessman, who is accused of having his stepdaughter falsify financial information on mortgage loan applications involving the federal lender Fannie Mae between December 2006 and December 2007. He faced more than two years in federal prison, but Hall made a downward departure in the sentencing guidelines and sentenced Layman to 16 months in prison, followed by three years’ probation.
It was still a blow for Layman’s supporters, who showed up in hopes of convincing the judge to give Layman just probation.
His stepdaughter, Leah Nazzaro, who was not involved in the scheme, said her stepfather is not the person he has been portrayed to be.
“What’s said about him is far apart from who he is. It’s black and white,” Nazzaro said.
After more than an hour of sympathetic testimony, Assistant United States Attorney David Stewart made the argument that by defrauding a federally backed institution, Layman was hurting the taxpayers of America.
Hall repeated that assertion in delivering the sentence.
The taxpayers “are in fact all of us in this room,” Hall said.