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Ex-HomeGold executive appeals 20-year sentence

Nov 16, 2010 1:03:00 PM - thestate.com
All five state Supreme Court justices on Tuesday questioned the validity of an appeal by a former mortgage lending executive, who was seeking a new trial or a reduction in his 20-year sentence for his role in one of the largest bankruptcies in state history.

A Lexington County jury in 2007 found former HomeGold chief executive Ronald Sheppard guilty of securities fraud, conspiracy and obtaining property by false pretenses in the 2003 collapse of HomeGold and its subsidiary, Carolina Investors. More than 8,000 investors lost $275 million.

Attorney Michael Sautter argued that the trial judge's failure to resolve an incident of inappropriate juror contact and the State Grand Jury's lack of jurisdiction over the charges on which Sheppard was convicted added up to an unfair trial for his client.

Chief Justice Jean Toal had a different take.

"In the alternative, he had a fair trial," Toal said. "And that happens some times."