A more than two year criminal case involving a local businessman accused of bilking First Financial Bank of more than $260,000 came to an end this week in the 266th Judicial District Court.
Terry Staton, 43, former owner of J7 Vehicle Sales, pleaded guilty to misapplication of fiduciary property, a first-degree felony.
Staton, who is now out of business and living in a different city, was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay the bank $261,000 in restitution.
District Attorney Jason Cashon said the plea agreement was approved by bank representatives.
"In resolving this case we took into consideration the facts that the bank had basically seized everything of value belonging to the defendant and he was no longer in business in the community," Cashon said. "He's been crushed."
Staton was first arrested in April 2009 and released from the Erath County Jail hours later after posting a $20,000 bond.
On Monday, Staton admitted in court that he sold 22 vehicles financed by First Financial Bank, but failed to tender proceeds to the bank after the sale, which is required by law.
Cashon said the case sends a message that bad business practices will not be tolerated in Erath County.
"The message is clear that criminal business practices will land criminals in serious jeopardy of losing significant assets and spending time in the penitentiary," Cashon said. "We all have to play by the rules."
If Staton fails to adhere to the terms of his probation, he could be sent to prison for five-99 years or life.