CLEARFIELD – Tim Kephart, who was accused of stealing from the employees of Kephart Trucking a few years ago, was back in court Wednesday for a hearing on an appeal in his case.
Kephart, 60, formerly of Morrisdale, served time in a federal prison for his involvement in a $3.6 million check-kiting scheme against a bank in Ohio. He had been sentenced to serve 46 months in October of 2013, according to previous reports.
In 2015, he was charged in Clearfield County with stealing money from his employees’ pensions and insurance premiums beginning as early as 2011.
He pleaded guilty to 36 felony counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and 60 misdemeanor counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and was sentenced in July of 2015 by President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman to a total of eight to 32 years in state prison.
He was originally charged with over 600 various counts.
Kephart’s sentence was modified in January of 2016 to seven to 20 years in state prison, according to court documents.
His attorney, Craig Cooley, filed a post conviction relief act petition claiming ineffectiveness of counsel by Kephart’s original attorney, Chris Pentz.
Kephart testified during the hearing Wednesday that although Pentz filed a motion asking for more detailed information on the numerous counts, Kephart did not see any of this information prior to him signing a plea agreement in June of 2015.
Cooley had Kephart go through a detailed list of insurance payments from employees that were submitted to the insurance company.
This information indicated that 18 of the counts of failure to make required disposition of funds that were rated as first-degree misdemeanors should actually have been third-degree misdemeanors because of the amount of money involved.
Kephart said they did not have the information from the insurance company until after he signed the plea agreement.
He also stated that after they received more information in July of 2015, he told Pentz that there were individuals on the list that weren’t even covered by the company plan.
He reviewed information during the hearing showing that the insurance premiums for the company were paid in full through June of 2013.
When Cooley asked if Kephart would have pleaded guilty to these counts if he had this information in June of 2015, he said he would not have done that. He also claimed he was told it was not possible for him to withdraw his plea.
Kephart was taken to a federal prison in August of 2015, and he said it was difficult for him to communicate with Pentz because he was in separate housing and could not make phone calls.
After a motion for reconsideration of sentence was granted in the case, Kephart told Pentz he wanted to be in court for the resentencing hearing and Pentz was supposed to arrange for him to participate by video conferencing equipment. But this did not happen.
Kephart testified that in late January of 2016, he received correspondence from Pentz with the information on the result of the resentencing hearing and stating that there was nothing more he could do for Kephart.
In his cross-examination, First Assistant District Attorney Ryan Dobo asked Kephart if Pentz had discussed the consequences if he took the case to trial and he agreed Pentz had discussed this and the possible penalty.
Dobo asked if he was charged with many more counts than was on the plea, and Kephart said yes.
When asked if he felt comfortable entering the plea on the record in June of 2015, Kephart said yes, and admitted he did not have a problem with Pentz’s representation at that time.
Ammerman gave the defense 75 days to provide briefs on these issues and the commonwealth 45 days after that to provide a response.
You can read about the original sentencing and restitution hearing here.