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Andrew James Fortner, 34, of Jefferson City, Missouri, was sentenced last week to four (4) years each on two counts of Forgery. On Friday, March 20, 2015, Senior Judge D. Gregory Warren, denied Andrew Fortner’s request for probation and instead sentenced him to prison for fraudulently soliciting donations to the “Wounded Warrior Project” using fake literature and trademarked logos. The case was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutors John Garrabrant and Nicholas Chlysta.
In 2013, Fortner was twice captured on surveillance footage at the St. James Country Mart actively soliciting and receiving donations for the Wounded Warrior Project. Representatives from Wounded Warriors confirmed that the charity does not utilize store front fundraising, nor have any donations ever been received by or from Fortner. The Wounded Warrior Project hopes that cases like this raise awareness of these types of scams. At the time of the incidents, Fortner was in the United States Army Reserves serving as a Sergeant. Subsequently, Fortner was discharged for Unsatisfied Participation, with a discharge status showing his demotion from a Sergeant to a Private Class E-1. A spokesperson for the United States Recruitment Office in Rolla, Missouri, commented, “Fortner is a perpetual, habitual liar and has done a disservice.”
Phelps County Prosecutor Brendon Fox said, “I am satisfied with the result. Mr. Fortner took advantage of the generosity and kindness of the local community. I hope his actions do not discourage people from contributing to the Wounded Warriors in the future. This case hopefully will make people more aware of the importance of making sure their contributions are made through legitimate channels. I am proud of Andy Davis, a Retired Army Sergeant and Retired Detective with the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department. I know he took a special interest in this case and bringing Fortner to justice”
Fox would remind you that if you see suspicious activities like Fortner’s, to contact law enforcement. Together we can make a difference and stop charity fraud.
Phelps County Sheriff Richard Lisenbe and Phelps County Prosecutor Brendon Fox each donated $2,500.00 to the St. James High School’s drug/alcohol awareness program. The school will use these funds to purchase various items to help educate and deter students from drug and alcohol use.
The administrator for the program, Maggie Roberts said without the assistance of both departments it would difficult for the St. James School to have this program. Mrs. Roberts accepts the checks, totaling $5,000.00.
David B. Hufstedler, 55, of Mountain Grove, Missouri, was found guilty last week of two counts of Statutory Sodomy in the First Degree. The trial was heard by Senior Judge D. Gregory Warren, who rendered the verdicts because Hufstedler had waived his right to a jury.
The State’s evidence showed that in 2010 and 2011, Hufstedler had sexually abused a six year old child on two separate occasions. The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant Prosecutor John Garrabrant. Phelps County Prosecutor Brendon Fox said, “As a father of young children, I’m very pleased with the guilty verdict. Sgt. Nakanishi with RPD did an excellent investigation and Mr. Garrabrant tried one heck of a case.”
Mr. Hufstedler is set for sentencing on March 12, 2015 and faces from 10 to 30 years, or life imprisonment on each count. Additionally, given the victim’s age, he will have to serve 85% of whatever sentence he receives.
Brendon Fox, Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney, has announced that Nicholas Chlysta has joined the office as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney. Chlysta, 34, originally of St. Louis, Missouri, is a 2007 graduate of the St. Louis University School of Law.
Mr. Chlysta is a past president and the current secretary of the Phelps County Bar Association. He is serving as an Assistant Prosecutor for the Phelps County Prosecutor’s Office for the second time. During his time away from the Prosecutor’s Office, Mr. Chlysta was an associate attorney for the law firm of Steelman, Gaunt & Horsefield where his practice concentrated on civil litigation, worker’s compensation, and criminal defense. In 2014, Mr. Chlysta was selected as one of Missouri’s “Top 40 under 40” trial attorneys practicing in the area of “civil plaintiff law” by the National Trial Lawyers. He is a member of the Missouri Bar, the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, and is also licensed in the Eastern US District Courts of Missouri.
“We’re very pleased to have Nick join our prosecution team”, said Fox. “He has built a good foundation during his time as an assistant prosecutor and private attorney and I believe will prove himself to be an excellent advocate for the citizens of Phelps County.”