Camden News

Wednesday
June 20, 2018
Camden News

Attorney is asking for probation for Peterson

By By Bradly Gill
This article was published June 7, 2018 at 11:19 a.m.

— By BRADLY GILL

Staff writer

Allen Roberts, the attorney for Jordan Alexandra Peterson, has entered a sentencing memorandum to the Western District Court of Arkansas requesting probation with no incarceration in reference to Peterson making a false statement to an FBI agent.

The motion stems from the creation of a false will on Deepwater Horizon oil-rig explosion survivor/Camden resident, Matthew Seth Jacobs.

A section of the most recent motion states: “Indeed, defendant’s only connection to this underlying criminal scheme, and, therefore, her only guilt regarding that scheme, is being Donna Herring’s daughter. It would be double jeopardy to sentence her for that again because defendant is already serving life without parole for that offense.”

Court documents show that Jacobs was injured in an oil-rig explosion and received a multi-million-dollar settlement, which was payable beginning April 2012. Jacobs died in an automobile accident on Jan. 19, 2015, at the age of 34.

After Jacobs’ death, his son - along with Matthew Jacobs’ brother, Laurence Reed - searched Jacobs home for his last will and testament, but were unable to locate it. On Jan. 25, 2015, Donna Herring - Peterson’s mother - claimed to have discovered a sealed envelope containing a duplicate of the will and testament. She reportedly refused to show the purported last will and testament to Jordan Jacobs and Reed. Herring instead persuaded Reed to give the sealed envelope to a local lawyer who was subsequently engaged to represent Peterson in the probate case related to Jacobs’ estate.

Jacobs’ family contested the will and pursued the suggestion that Herring had created a fake will, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation was contacted.

Peterson was charged with willfully providing “material fiction” to FBI agents in regard to the whereabouts of the Jacobs’ cell phone. On July 13, 2017, Peterson initially denied knowledge of the whereabouts of the cellphone to agents during questioning, but documents show that she later called her boyfriend to bring the phone to her.

Peterson had previously pleaded not guilty to this charge and six other counts in relation to a 12-count indictment filed on July 26, 2017. The other charges as per the terms of the plea agreement include: One count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts of money laundering and one count of obstruction in relation the destruction of Matthew Jacob’s cell phone. Peterson had reportedly been engaged to Jacobs but at the time of his death, he was dating someone else, according to filed documents.

On Jan. 25 of this year, Peterson entered in a plea agreement that would drop all other charges except the charge of willfully providing material fiction.

The memorandum filed June 6 states, “Defendant did not further belabor her Response and Objection filing (Doc. 124) with argument about being a ‘minimal’ or ‘minor’ participant in the group criminal activity. This would have been inconsistent with defendant’s position that she was and remained totally unaware of the criminal activity underlying this transaction. In other words, those circumstances are not ‘relevant’ to the offense to which defendant pleaded guilty because she was unaware of them. The depth of defendant’s participation in the group’s criminality becomes germane only after one concludes she was a member of the group, which she was not.

“However, the plea negotiations herein are worth a final comment. The government wisely pointed out to counsel with great emphasis that a jury might consider the simple fact that Alex was the ultimate beneficiary of the scheme, i.e., she got all the money, as circumstantial evidence of her guilt in all the counts. Defendant’s response was always the same — We respectfully disagree. Getting the assets, large though they were, was not evidence, circumstantial or direct, of guilt for the scheme. It could be evidence that defendant should have known about the scheme, i.e., had constructive knowledge thereof; however, the whole of facts and circumstances herein more than overcame the idea that defendant should have known about the fraudulent scheme.

The document goes on to state, “However, once more for the record: Defendant submits she was nothing more than a passive receptacle for Donna Herring’s ill-gotten gains. There is admittedly no way to have certainty about this now, but we respectfully submit that Donna Herring considered that having joint ownership with defendant of a $1,000,000, more or less, in bank accounts gave Donna Herring the same control as if those accounts were all in her name alone. Indeed, defendant’s only connection to this underlying criminal scheme, and, therefore, her only guilt regarding that scheme, is being Donna Herring’s daughter. It would be double jeopardy to sentence her for that again because defendant is already serving life without parole for that offense.”

The memorandum further states: “Since January 11, 2017, (the date of the First Superceding Indictment) defendant has remained free pending trial on an unsecured.

“Defendant and her counsel are already working on a presentation to the master’s degree admissions program at UAM. The presentation is on why this convicted felon should be admitted to graduate school. Defendant’s aspiration to be a K-12 public school teacher, even with a master’s degree, is also in jeopardy. It will take a lot of good fortune and additional work for defendant to ever obtain an Arkansas teacher’s license, a condition precedent to teaching in a K-12 public school. However, whether or not she has a license will not matter if she is incarcerated. A sentence of incarceration instead of probation with minimum restrictions would do additional and irreparable damage to this defendant’s life.”

PROPOSED SENTENCE

“Defendant’s PSR has a final total offense level of eight. Neither the government nor defendant objected to that conclusion. This means incarceration is not required. Defendant is eligible for probation of not less than one (1) year, nor more than five (5) years. We respectfully submit to the Court that defendant should be sentenced to probation for one (1) year. 1. Since we are asking for probation for one (1) year, we also propose a fine of $4,392, calculated at twelve (12) times the $366 monthly cost of supervision. It would also seem reasonable to add a one (1) year period of supervised release.”

The document also request that a separate evidentiary hearing be held in order to determine the amount of restitution owed by Peterson.

The memorandum states: “Defendant submits that there should only be restitution ordered against this defendant for loss to the victim directly related to the crime for which defendant is being sentenced, Count 11. We would qualify this by stating without qualification that this defendant should not under any circumstances be allowed to retain any money, assets, or other benefits that she has because of Donna Herring’s criminal activity.”

Peterson’s mother, aunt and uncle - John Wayne and Diane Kinley - have also entered plea agreements.

On June 5, Judge Susan Hickey granted a motion for extension of time to file Sentencing Memorandum as to Donna Christina Herring. Any sentencing memorandum deemed beneficial to the court must be filed no later than October 15, 2018. Responses must be filed no later than 7 days after the filing of the sentencing memorandum. Herring requested this extension because her lawyer is pregnant and due for maternity leave.

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