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Judge sentences attorney Page to probation, fine

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SOUTH BEND—Attorney and real estate developer Paul J. Page will serve two years of probation and pay a $10,000 fine for concealing the source of a $362,000 down payment on his purchase of a state-leased office building in Elkhart.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Miller Jr. issued the sentence at a Monday morning hearing in South Bend.

Federal prosecutors had argued Page, 49, should serve a 14-month prison sentence for a wire fraud count. Page pleaded guilty in January before the government tried co-defendants, John M. Bales and William E. Spencer, at an eight-day jury trial in February that ended in acquittal on all 13 counts for the pair.

The judge scoffed at the government's sentencing request for Page, noting the crime resulted in no losses to either the lender or the state. He said Page, a father of three without a criminal record, does not pose a danger of offending again.

Page spoke briefly during the hearing, after taking a few moments to compose himself.

"Hopefully a man is not defined by one action," he said, before turning away from the judge to thank a courtroom full of friends and family members.

Page declined to talk after the sentencing hearing, but his attorney Robert W. Hammerle described the ruling as "utter relief." Hammerle described the offense as an "isolated technical violation" that is actually quite common.

The judge seemed to agree, noting that he hadn't seen "many or any" cases with "less aggravating circumstances."

Prosecutors had argued in a sentencing memorandum that Page should be sentenced at the high end of guidelines, calling for a range of 8 to 14 months, since as an attorney he should have "known better" than to conceal the source of his down payment for the Elkhart building. The down payment came from Bales, who also brokered the lease deal with the state to use the building.

The government said the deal violated an agreement between Bales' firm, Venture Cos., and the state that barred the company from direct or indirect ownership of properties where state agencies leased space.

Hammerle noted that the state's Department of Child Services renewed its lease deal for the building since federal prosecutors filed their case against Bales, Page and Spencer, and are happy with the space.

Before issuing the sentence, Judge Miller said he determined the crime did not fit the sentencing guidelines established in Page's plea agreement. He removed a few sentencing enhancements from the calculation, resulting in a recommended prison sentence between zero and 6 months.

Still, the felony conviction means Page likely will lose his license to practice law. That would be up to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.
 

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