Barnes Sentenced to Jail Time, Probation

Ronald Barnes has been sentenced to six to 10 years in prison plus six years supervised probation on seven counts of embezzling more than $1 million in royalties from a Sheridan oil and gas company.

The sentence was handed down by District Court Judge William Edelman (EE-dul-mun) at the end of a sentencing hearing that lasted nearly four hours on Thursday morning.

The 55-year-old Sheridan man also has been ordered to complete restitution to Summit Gas Resources, the company that he began embezzling soon after he was employed in January 2004. The judge credited him with having repaid more than $673,000 of the money taken over a nine-year period from 2004 until 2012. The defendant was comptroller and chief financial officer of the company at that time. Much of the hearing was devoted to testimony from witnesses of the defense and prosecution, including character witnesses for the defendant.

At one point, Summit President and CEO Peter Schoonmaker addressed the court. The president said as a result of the crime, the gas company laid off over half of its employees and no longer has the support of former investors. He described the defendant as “the Bernie Madoff of Sheridan,” comparing the Sheridan man to the former stockbroker convicted of fraud in 2008. The Summit CEO said that he wanted payback, and that the defendant needed to go to jail to serve as an example to others who might be tempted to engage in similar schemes.

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