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LOGAN — Monica Myers is angry about the emotional and financial stress her family has suffered after being betrayed by a man whom she personally knew from school and trusted.
"This whole situation has made me so incredibly angry. I'm angry that I trusted Lonnie and that I convinced my dad to spend $16,000 with him for these (funeral) plans. And I'm angry that I let him blow off every single meeting that I tried to schedule with him. This has caused undue stress on my dad," Myers testified.
She spoke Tuesday during the sentencing of Lonnie Kent Nyman, a Logan funeral home owner and director convicted of communications fraud and other charges.
Myers' father took money from his retirement account to pre-pay for premium funeral services with Nyman Funeral Home. She said she was assured the money was safe, but they were being lied to. Now her father worries about paying for another funeral, and about the possibility that his children may need to pay for a funeral, she said.
Other victims expressed similar frustrations Tuesday after saying their money given to Nyman Funeral Home for pre-paid funeral expenses was used for personal expenses instead of being placed into a trust and held until it was needed.
Many victims said they knew the Nymans personally and had chosen them for future funeral services because of relationships with them or someone who knew them well.
First District Judge Angela F. Fonnesbeck ordered Nyman, 47, to serve one year in prison, but gave him credit for the year he has already spent behind bars. He was also sentenced to 48 months of probation and will be required to pay $1,200 each month to the victims until he repays the amount owed of more than $350,000 — a majority of which is available and will be paid immediately.
The judge's sentence matched an agreement between the attorneys that was formalized in the plea agreement on Nov. 8. He pleaded guilty to a pattern of unlawful activity, unlawful dealing with property by fiduciary, and communications fraud, all second-degree felonies. Two additional second-degree felony charges were dismissed as part of the plea bargain.
Although Nyman is not being asked to serve any additional time for these charges, deputy attorney general Ryan Holtan explained that he is already in prison serving time for separate cases involving arranging to meet a boy for sexual activity and writing bad checks to get out of jail.
Fonnesbeck told Nyman on Tuesday that it is important for him to understand that he has done more than commit a crime, but that he has harmed people through his choices.
"What you have taken is more than money, and what the victims in this case have lost is about more than money. They have lost trust in their community, they have lost trust in you as someone that they loved, befriended and cared about. They have lost the peace of mind as they age that a burden will not be passed to their family members. To some, this type of loss is going to be heartbreaking. To other families it is going to be financially devastating," the judge said.
Some victims expressed concern that the plea agreement allows for the three felonies to be reduced to class A misdemeanors after the money is paid back, and asked the judge to keep the charges as felonies. Fonnesbeck said that that aspect of the plea agreement will be decided after a separate motion is filed and considered.
The exact amount Nyman will need to repay will be determined at a restitution hearing on Jan. 12, 2022, but it will be at least $352,465.34 and could be up to $527,278.43. Nyman's attorney is in possession of $270,000 from Nyman, which will be put into an account with the court and distributed to the victims as soon as possible.
Lonnie Nyman's father, Kent Nyman, is also facing criminal charges and the restitution amount will be paid jointly.