ST. GEORGE — A man accused of bouncing hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks to multiple investors appeared for sentencing on five felony charges Thursday.

2023 booking photo of Thomas Madden, 65, of Washington City, who appeared for sentencing on felony bad check charges, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, July 10, 2023 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Thomas Paul Madden, 65, was in 5th District Court for sentencing on five second-degree felony charges for issuing a bad check – a culmination of multiple investigations by Washington City detective spanning more than two years.

Charges were filed in three separate cases, the first of which came to light in 2021 when detectives in Washington City investigated a report from Madden’s local bank branch that checks were returned unpaid for insufficient funds, according to court records.

Madden reportedly wrote three checks totaling more than $310,000 — all of which were honored by the local branch and bounced days later. By that time, less than half of the funds remained, leaving the bank with a loss of more than $145,200.

During a phone call, the report states, Madden told investigators the checks were written to an individual who had threatened to do bodily harm to him and his family. The three second-degree felony charges for issuing a bad check were filed in June 2022 and Madden pleaded guilty to two charges, while the third charge was dismissed.

He also told investigators that while he knew he did not have enough money to cover the checks, he issued them as payment to “appease the other party” he said he believed to be responsible for the threats. Months later, the balances were “still outstanding,” which investigators said was an indication Madden made no effort to resolve the losses to the bank.

Madden made similar comments during his sentencing hearing.

In the case filed in May 2023, Madden admittedly wrote three checks totaling more than $350,000, all to one investor who had more than $1 million invested in Madden’s business. The checks were returned by the defendant’s bank stamped as “refer to maker.”

Detectives learned Madden failed to make good on the checks within the 14-day period of the drafts bouncing, the reporting party told police. Madden pleaded guilty to two of the three second-degree felony bad check charges.

Madden faced more charges in another case filed in March 2023 involving a check allegedly made out to one an investor in Washington state.

According to charging documents filed at the time of the arrest, investigators received a report from the resident in Washington state who said she gave Madden approximately $200,000 for investment purposes the previous year. She also told authorities she has yet to see any type of return on her money. That case was dismissed in exchange for the defendant’s guilty plea in the other three cases.

In another case filed in July 2023, investigators learned Madden had allegedly written $500,000 in checks to repay an investor – all of which were returned as insufficient funds by the bank. He was later charged with five second-degree felony counts of issuing a bad check. That case was also dismissed by the courts in December.

During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, the defendant was facing a total of five second-degree felony charges related to the bounced checks, charges he pleaded guilty to during a resolution hearing in December.

The hearing was presided over by District Judge John J. Walton, while the state was represented by prosecutor Philip Soelberg and Madden was represented by defense attorney Larry Meyers.

Sitting in the gallery was Washington City Police Detective Tom Lloyd, who spearheaded multiple investigations involving several of Madden’s victims.

During the hearing, Soelberg said Madden not only left a number of victims who suffered significant financial losses in Utah but had also committed similar financial crimes in Washington State prior to moving to the area.

In fact, the prosecutor said, one of the five cases filed in 5th District Court involved bounced checks that were written to one of his investors in Washington state.

A summary of the defendant’s history in Washington state and in the state of Arizona was covered in a previous report by St. George News.

Based upon the extensive losses and the defendant’s history that extended beyond Utah, Soelberg asked the court to order the defendant to serve 180 days in jail; 45 days were recommended in the presentence report.

Meyers said his client has been law-abiding for the majority of his life, has been married for more than 40 years and has no criminal record, other than a misdemeanor conviction, prior to the cases filed in Utah.

Meyers added that the Utah crimes “are really out of character” for his client and described Madden as “a good man, a great father and a good husband.”

He also said that Madden was under a great deal of duress when he wrote the checks, after his client received the threats to his life, was experiencing a significant level of stress and was worried for his family’s safety in Washington state as well.

L-R: Defense attorney Larry Meyers stands with defendant Thomas Madden, 65, during a sentencing hearing held in 5th District Court in St. George, Utah, March 7, 2024 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The judge also reviewed two victim impact statements submitted to the court prior to the hearing. While he read them silently, Walton did comment on the letters by saying there was “a stark difference” between the victims’ account of what transpired compared with how Madden described the transactions.

The victims stated it was the defendant who became physically aggressive with the investors, the judge said, while the defendant said it was the investor who demanded payment and threatened not only Madden’s life but the lives of his family as well.

The defense attorney asked the judge to sentence his client to probation, in lieu of jail, and added that Madden has already suffered extensive financial losses and will have five second-degree felonies on his record for the rest of his life.

“Probation is a sufficient punishment,” Meyers added.

He closed by saying if a jail sentence was warranted,  Madden should be given time to get his affairs in order before he begins serving his sentence. The judge said with five second-degree felonies hanging over Madden’s head the defendant should have come to court prepared to go to jail.

“He’s had ample time to get his affairs in order,” Walton added.

With that, the judge then suspended the five 1-15-year prison terms in the three cases and instead, Madden was sentenced to serve the 45-day jail sentence as recommended in the presentence report. He also ordered the defendant to begin serving that sentence immediately and had the bailiffs take Madden into custody.

Following his release, the defendant would be placed on three years’ probation. The judge also ordered that Madden be prohibited from having any contact with the victims from engaging in any stock trading or from running any type of business involving investors.

On Friday, Madden was charged with one second-degree felony count of issuing a bad check exceeding $5,000 in a new case filed by the Washington County Attorney’s Office. The details of that case have yet to be released.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.  

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