Ex-Suns employee sentenced to 3 years for fraud
Former director of group sales accused of stealing from Jacksonville Suns
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A former Jacksonville Suns sales manager will spend the next three years in prison for stealing from the organization.
January Putt, 36, was arrested in April and charged with grand theft. She pleaded guilty to an amended charge of fraud, admitting she stole at least $62,000 from the team.
She was sentenced to 3 years in state prison, which will be followed by six years of probation. She must also pay restitution to the team in $500 per month installments until the money is repaid. So far, she has paid back about $18,000.
Putt said in court that she's not sure why she stole from the team but that she knew it was wrong and illegal and now she's sorry.
"I don't know why I didn't care. I don't know why," Putt said.
A defense attorney asked Putt if her crime came down to "pure old-fashioned greed."
"Yes sir," she responded.
Putt, who had been with the Suns since 2009, admitted she had a position of power and privilege and that she abused the trust the Jacksonville Suns organization had in her.
Putt was arrested in April after long-time owner Peter Bragan Jr. and Suns staff discovered a check the team was supposed to receive never came through. He found it had been altered so that Putt, the group sales manager, could deposit it into her personal bank account.
Bragan said Putt admitted to the one theft and he fired her. Detectives started investigating and found she stole much more than one check. They discovered 29 fraudulent deposits over at least 15 months.
"I feel terrible about the whole thing," Bragan said. "I did feel like she was a daughter to me. I feel terrible emotionally being here today. But I know that if she doesn't change she will do it to somebody else in the future. There is something wrong inside. There's got to be some kind of rehabilitation I hope."
Putt fessed up Tuesday in court and apologized to Bragan and the organization
"I guess I was just going through a rough time and decided to start taking money just out of greed and wanting to be more successful, not really caring what I was doing and who I was hurting," Putt said. "I thought it was easy, and I could just take it, and I just didn't really have a care about it. I thought it was OK."
Putt faced up to 30 years in prison, but the judge sentenced her to three. Putt's probation officer recommended the three-year sentence because the crime was a first-degree felony.
Putt also admitted to lying about being lawyer. She did graduate law school, but she was never admitted to the bar, despite saying she could practice in four states.
She also violated the terms of her bond by traveling to Mississippi to visit family. She said she wanted to see them before facing potential time behind bars.
She was hired by the Jaguars after her arrest, but she was quickly fired. She admitted that she didn't tell them about the arrest.
She said she has sold some of her personal belongings to help pay the restitution.
Putt's parents have said they'll chip in about $10,000. Bragan, who owned the Suns until last week, said he's not sure he'll ever get all his money back but that he hopes Putt gets the help she needs.
Putt's attorney declined to comment after the sentencing hearing. She has 30 days to appeal the sentence.
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