A Dallas man convicted of stealing about $250,000 from North and Central Texas businesses and residents has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.
A Parker County jury took about an hour to convict Charles Lyon, 47, on Monday of theft over $200,000 involving victims in Parker, Leon, Fannin, Collin, Dallas and Jack counties in at least 15 business transactions.
After a punishment hearing, Lyon elected to have District Judge Graham Quisenberry assess his punishment and Quisenberry sentenced him to 30 years.
“Bank records indicated that Mr. Lyon continued to write bogus checks for two years after we started investigating this case,” Parker County Assistant District Attorney Abby Placke said in a news release. Placke prosecuted the case with Assistant District Attorney Susan Pruett. “So there was no indication that he was planning to change.”
Parker County authorities began an investigation when they received five bad checks Lyon issued for seven loads of liquid fertilizer worth about $73,000 delivered to a Springtown address.
“As the case moved forward, our investigators received information that Mr. Lyon was conducting business in other counties the same way,” Placke said.
Parker County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain said Lyon intentionally spread his bogus transactions across Texas so that law enforcement agencies would look at them individually and often conclude they were a civil matter.
“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,” Swain said.
The truck driver Lyon hired to transport the fertilizer also went unpaid, according to testimony in the trial.
“This was not simply a case of 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.”
One Perrin man was scammed out of $82,000 when Lyon persuaded him to invest in a clay pigeon shooting facility, prosecutors said. Once he got the money, Lyon pocketed it, Pruett said.
Defense attorneys presented witnesses who testified that Lyon had served in the United States Marine Corps and was a good family member.
Along with the prison sentence, Lyon was ordered to pay $245,456 in restitution to victims.