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"Former Missoula airport director sentenced"

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Former Missoula airport director sentenced
The Missoulian (MT)

The former director of Missoula International Airport was sentenced Friday
on federal charges of bribery.

John Patrick Seymour, 47, is currently serving a 10-year term in the Montana
State Prison for embezzling $645,000 in airport funds for his personal use.

On Friday, Chief U.S. District Judge Don Molloy handed Seymour a 14-month
sentence in the federal Bureau of Prisons that will run concurrently to the
state court sentence. Part of the sentence requires a 36-month period of
supervised release for 36 months and restitution in the amount of $60,000.
Last year, Seymour pleaded guilty to four felony theft charges, as well as a
misdemeanor charge for theft and another misdemeanor for official
misconduct. The latter involved Seymour's acceptance of a bribe related to
airport land acquisition.

But additional federal charges cropped up when an investigation into the
land deal showed that Seymour received a $60,000 kickback for helping two
Missoula businessmen with real estate interests adjacent to the airport.

"I accepted compensation, the $60,000, for my participation in purchasing
the property," Seymour said during a change-of-plea hearing in May. "It's
illegal for me to do that in my position as a public official."

According to the federal indictment unsealed last spring, Seymour
manipulated the price of property owned by William Joseph "B.J." Lefler and
Roger Dale Hall. Through a series of proposals, Seymour systematically
inflated the value of the land until the property was valued at almost three
times its original appraised value. When Missoula International Airport
bought the property at the higher price, Lefler and Hall rewarded Seymour
with $60,000 disguised as the purchase of a bison herd.

On Dec. 4, 2000, the Missoula County Airport Authority purchased the
property for $603,544. Once the sale was complete, Lefler and Hall each
transferred $30,000 to Seymour.

In U.S. District Court Friday, Seymour faced a maximum penalty of 10 years
imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

However, per a plea agreement, several counts were dropped from the initial
indictment, including conspiracy and mail fraud.

Lefler and Hall were also sentenced Friday, and each man received five years
probation with six months of home detention. Molloy also ordered each
landowner to pay $60,000 in restitution.

Seymour's career began spinning out of control Nov. 15, 2004, when airport
officials learned that $645,000 was missing from airport accounts. The
Missoula County Airport Authority board suspended Seymour without pay,
marking an end to Seymour's 21-year career at the airport.

At the time he was suspended, Seymour's net worth was estimated at $1.4
million, although his annual salary was roughly $120,000. He had a large
house in the Rattlesnake Valley and a ranch on Flathead Lake, where a herd
of bison roamed.

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