A former Richland business owner who failed to report retail sales tax while operating without a proper license paid $7,000 toward his restitution before being ordered to spend six months in jail.
Daniel Clarence Medlock, 39, was self-employed and doing business as Cutting Edge Hardwood Floors when his license was suspended in February 2009, and revoked seven months later.
Judge Craig Matheson authorized work release if the jail finds Medlock is eligible for the program. He must report by Wednesday morning.
The business now is being operated by relatives, and Medlock is working for them to earn money so he can continue to pay back the victims, including the state Department of Revenue, said his lawyer, Sam Swanberg. However, media coverage of the cases against Medlock has had a negative effect on the business and led some customers to ask for refunds on scheduled installations, he said.
The attorney described his client as a decent and hardworking guy who "made some poor choices" while dealing with economic pitfalls and other hard knocks.
"This is not a guy who was a crook trying from the get-go to steal from people," Swanberg told the Herald. Medlock has apologized and taken responsibility for his actions and has been "treated pretty fairly" by the judicial system, he said.
Medlock pleaded guilty in November to first-degree theft and three counts of operating a business post-revocation. The charges against him were filed by Benton County Deputy Prosecutor Megan Whitmire and state Assistant Attorney General Scott Marlow.
Court documents alleged that Medlock failed to return a $5,600 down payment for hardwood floors that never were installed.
Medlock continued to offer contract bids to customers and completed installation projects after being ordered by the state to stop because of the revoked license. Between September 2009 and April 2010, he collected more than $1,600 in retail sales tax but failed to report or remit that amount to the state.
Matheson denied a defense request to delay the sentencing. He gave Medlock time to go to the bank Wednesday morning and return with the substantial payment toward the owed $12,529 plus interest.
The defense asked for a four-month jail term, while prosecutors recommended 10 months. The judge decided that six months was appropriate for Medlock's crime.
Marlow said the ultimate goal of the Attorney General's Office and the Department of Revenue has been to get the money back, and to send a message to both the "bad guys" who are taking advantage of the system and undercutting bids and the honest business people who are appreciated for "busting their hump and doing a good job" and paying their taxes.
"The state needs this money. This is money that goes toward the general fund, goes toward roads, goes toward schools," he said. "All of that keeps the state running."