BUNNELL -- Even some of the customers who lost thousands to an Orlando shutter dealer agreed at his sentencing Thursday that he wasn't so much a crook as a lousy businessman.
Circuit Judge Kim C. Hammond sentenced Daniel George Quinn, 48, to 10 years' probation in hopes that he'll make restitution of nearly $400,000 to the more than 60 victims who paid for but never received shutters. Quinn pleaded guilty last month to an organized scheme to defraud, a first-degree felony, which could have sent him to prison for up to 30 years.
"He's admitted that he's been a poor businessman," Hammond said. "He's probably not as eager to admit that he was a dishonest businessman and others would say that he was not. I think he evidenced some bad judgment."
Even though Mary Anders, 76, lost about $5,000, she said she didn't think Quinn was a criminal. The Flagler Beach resident agreed with the judge's decision.
"I thought he was compassionate and he needed to be," Anders said. "That was a man who just made some wrong decisions and he has a family to take care of."
Another victim, Walter McClean, 86, of New Smyrna Beach, said he didn't believe Quinn needed to be locked up in already crowded cells.
"I think he just got in over his head," said McClean who wheeled his 85-year-old wife, Dolores, into court in a wheelchair.
Hammond also withheld adjudication, which means Quinn is not a convicted felon. Hammond and Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Jason Lewis said they hope that will make it easier for Quinn to get a job and pay his victims. Hammond warned Quinn that if he violates probation he could go to prison for up to 30 years.
Quinn's restitution will begin with a $32,000 payment, which will be divided among the victims.Quinn also made $2,000 from the sale of his Ford Mustang, which will go toward restitution.
Quinn testified at his sentencing that he had tried to keep his shutter business Home Systems Inc. afloat. Quinn said he refinanced the mortgage on his house and used some of the money to pay bills at home and some he put back into the business. He said in hopes of keeping his business running he stopped taking a paycheck, earnings which at one time had amounted to $87,000 a year. He said he and his wife, Patricia, have four children, one grown and three at home, two girls, 11 and 12 and a boy, 9.
Quinn said he has been unable to get a job because of the pending legal case and started his own handyman business, which now has about four regular customers and earns him $300 to $350 a week. His house is now in foreclosure.
"Did you take one dollar of these people's money for your personal enrichment and income?" Quinn's lawyer, Michael Lafay, asked him.
"No," Quinn responded.
But prosecutor Lewis then pointed out that Quinn had transferred $75,000 to $100,000 between January 2005 to August 2006 from his business account to his personal account.
"Would you say that's a personal benefit, to be able to afford to feed your family, afford to go out to dinner?" Lewis said.
"Yes," Quinn said.
Lewis said that even though by July 2006 Quinn had shutter contracts that should have been completed but weren't he continued taking other customers' money.
"How many victims does it take for you to finally stand up and say five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five contracts uncompleted, forty, forty-five, fifty, how many does it take for you to stand up and say it's time. I'm done. I need to get out," Lewis said.
"It took until I had no choice but to close," Quinn said. "Up until the day before I closed, I was still installing jobs, trying to get them done. You know, if I could've figured out another way to continue going, to continue installing jobs I'd still be doing it."
"Do you realize now that what you did back then was wrong?" Lewis asked.
"I realize I made a lot of mistakes and I know that a lot of people were hurt," Quinn said. "I know I should have made different decisions back them. And I know the responsibility falls on me, and I'm sorry to everybody that lost money."
Source: News JournalOnline