Board denies parole for swindler
From the Associated Press / Billings Gazette, March 25 2006
The state Board of Pardons has denied parole to a former Jehovah’s Witness church elder who helped bilk an elderly woman out of a $7 million estate, including a family ranch. Dale A. Erickson, 56, of Missoula, was sentenced in 2003 to 25 years in prison with 10 suspended after pleading no contest to conspiracy, theft and securities fraud.
Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Attorney Chris Miller and Sheriff Scott Howard attended the hearing at the Cascade County regional jail, where Erickson is an inmate. After listening to the objections of Miller, Howard and members of the late Una Anderson’s family, the board rejected Erickson’s request, said Jeff Walter, senior administrative officer for the state Board of Pardons in Deer Lodge.
“Both Sheriff Howard and I were very pleased with the board’s decision to put Erickson over for three more years,” Miller said.
Miller said the parole board took into account Erickson’s refusal to accept responsibility for his actions or acknowledge that harm was done to Anderson, of Deer Lodge.
“The defendant and his family talked at length about what they had been through, but apparently were unconcerned about the impact of the crime on the victim,” Miller said. “I believe that his lack of empathy was a deciding factor.”
Erickson and co-defendant Darryl K. Willis, 66, of Helena, were ordered to pay $7.15 million in restitution, said Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Anez. Willis has paid $402.94, but Erickson has paid nothing, Anez said.
Prosecutors said Anderson, who died last year at 103, lost her life savings and a 6,400-acre family ranch near Jens in an elaborate befriend-and-betray scheme perpetrated by Erickson and Willis over a period of seven years. The men sold her ranch in 1999 for $4 million, less than its 1995 appraised value of $5.3 million. They didn’t tell her of the sale, paid themselves a commission and spent the money.
They used more than $2 million of her money to finance an effort to set up Montana’s first foreign capital depository, which would offer a place for the super-rich to stash their money similar to Swiss-style and offshore-type banks.