HELENA — A former GardaWorld employee convicted at trial of spending stolen money from an armored truck on gambling, day trading and a trip to France, was sentenced Monday to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.
After a four day trial in January, a jury found John Gregory Alexander Herrin, 30, of Helena, guilty of one count of interstate transportation of stolen property and eight counts of money laundering.
In evidence presented at trial, the prosecution said that on Nov. 20, 2013, three bags containing $390,000 went missing from a GardaWorld truck.
Helena employees initially loaded the money into a truck and drove to Missoula, where they met Missoula employees and transferred some currency bags to another truck for local delivery. While in Missoula, the Helena employees left their truck locked, but unattended, several times while servicing banks and ATMs before continuing to Kalispell. After arriving in Kalispell, employees discovered three bags containing $390,000 were missing.
Herrin worked for Garda from 2012 until 2014. An internal investigation by Garda was unable to definitively implicate anyone in the theft.
Not long after the theft, the prosecution said, Herrin’s financial situation drastically changed.
Herrin went to Las Vegas twice in 2014, stayed in a high-end casino, gambled and went shopping with a female companion. He made large cash deposits at the casino and bought a watch for $22,600 with cash. On return from his first trip, Herrin deposited a casino cashier’s check for $123,500 and $37,350 cash, for a total of $160,870, into his checking account. Prior to the deposit, Herrin’s account had a $945.65 balance.
Herrin told the bank teller he went to Las Vegas with $500 and won $160,000 gambling. While the teller was counting the cash, a Garda courier came into the bank to make a pick up. Herrin walked away from the counter and sat at an online banking station until the courier left. He then returned to the counter to complete his transaction.
On his second trip to Las Vegas, Herrin’s buy in at the casino was $50,100 cash and he lost $50,000. He also used his Visa credit card to buy more than $30,000 in merchandize from luxury retail stores and transferred money from his checking account to pay down the card balance.
After the second Las Vegas trip, Herrin went to his bank with a shoe box full of $20 bills for deposit into his checking account. The day before the deposit, the account balance was $3,550. Herrin told the teller he wasn’t sure how much money was in the box but that he had “another big score” in Vegas. He thought he had about $120,000.
Herrin told the teller he didn’t have a job but was doing some day trading. During the transaction, another Garda courier entered the bank. Herrin had already turned his back on the courier, seemingly in an effort not to be seen by the Garda employee.
In addition to the Las Vegas trips, Herrin started day trading in 2014. He opened an account with Ameritrade, deposited $111,100 and had significant losses. His losses were inconsistent with statements he made to bank employees that he was making money day trading.
In March 2014, Herrin traveled to France with a female companion and charged the trip to his Visa card. The trip cost more than $20,000.
Herrin then moved to Springfield, MO, and used his Visa card to enroll in college and for living expenses.
By the fall, Herrin’s financial situation became dire. In January 2015, he owed $17,753 on his Visa card, and in February 2015, Ford Motor Credit repossessed his car, which he had purchased about one month before the Garda theft.
In interviews with law enforcement, all of the Garda employees denied knowledge about and involvement in the disappearance of the $390,000. A former employee, who was also a roommate of Herrin’s, indicated that Herrin had showed him a casino check for gambling proceeds purportedly won in January 2014. He also indicated Garda employees left trucks unattended from time to time against company policy and that a broom handle could be used to unlock the trucks. The former employee also told law enforcement he had seen Herrin unlock a truck using a broom handle.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tim Racicot and Michael Kakuk prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI and the Secret Service.