From the Parker County District Attorney’s Office:
A Perrin man that a Parker County jury convicted Monday of stealing about a quarter million dollars from businesses and individuals across North and Central Texas was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Tuesday.
Charles Cody Lyon, 47, was convicted of an aggregated theft over $200,000 offense for an offense involving victims in Parker, Leon, Fannin, Collin, Dallas, and Jack counties and at least 15 different transactions.
“Our case began when we received five bad checks that Mr. Lyon issued to pay for seven loads of liquid fertilizer worth about $73,000 that he had delivered to an address in the Springtown area,” said Assistant District Attorney Abby Placke, who tried the case with Assistant District Attorney Susan Pruett. “As the case moved forward, our investigators received information that Mr. Lyon was conducting business in other counties in the same way. He would take the fertilizer that he wasn’t paying for and sell it at a significant discount to farmers and, since he wasn’t paying for it in the first place, it was all profit for him.”
According to trial testimony, the truck driver that Lyon had transport the fertilizer also went unpaid. Testimony also showed that Lyon ordered $68,000 of fertilizer from a small business in Leon County, $16,000 of fertilizer from a different small business in Fannin County, and $8,900 of fertilizer from a Collin County businessman. He made nominal payments on each transaction.
“An elderly gentleman from Perrin was also scammed by Mr. Lyon for his life’s savings,” Pruett said. “He convinced this gentleman to invest about $82,000 with him in a venture for shooting clays. Once he had all of his money, instead of buying anything with it, Mr. Lyon just pocketed it.”
“This was not simply a case of a business gone bad and not being able to pay its bills or someone who was just a bad businessman,” Placke said. “That would not be a criminal case. This was a case of a person who continually ran his business off of free product because he refused to pay his suppliers, our victims.”
“Under Texas law, theft cases can be combined together for a higher total dollar amount and higher sentence if they are all committed pursuant to a common scheme or continuous course of action,” said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain. “Those cases can also span multiple counties throughout the State and be prosecuted in any county in which one of the thefts occurred.”
“Mr. Lyons intentionally spread his bogus transactions out across the State so that law enforcement would look at them individually and often conclude they were a civil matter,” Pruett said. “It was only when you looked at them as a whole that you could see that his intention was to defraud the supplier. Sometimes he would even make nominal payments to the supplier and then claim to law enforcement that this showed the transaction dispute was civil rather than criminal.”
Lyon was represented by attorneys Kelly Puls, Mark Haney, and Steve Bankhead.
During the defense case, they called the Collin County victim, who testified that he did not want his part of the case prosecuted. On cross-examination, he told jurors that Lyon actually still owed him $240,000 which he had written off a couple of years ago.
Jurors deliberated for about an hour before finding Lyon guilty.
Lyon elected to have District Judge Graham Quisenberry assess his punishment. Judgments introduced by the prosecution showed that Lyon had two convictions for DWI and one for a misdemeanor theft. The defense called a few members of his family to testify that Lyon was a former United States Marine, a good member of the family and had a good upbringing.
After hearing the evidence and testimony, Quisenberry assessed a 30 year prison sentence and ordered that Lyon pay restitution of $245,456 to the victims.
“We appreciate Judge Quisenberry’s strong sentence,” Placke said. “Bank records indicated that Mr. Lyon continued to write bogus checks for two years after we started investigating this case, so there was no indication that he was planning to change.”
“Mr. Lyon will be eligible for parole when his actual time served plus his good time equals a quarter of his sentence,” Swain said. “Of course, eligibility for parole does not mean entitlement to be paroled. That will be up to the Board of Pardons and Paroles.”