PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Convicted fraud artist Robert Fletcher pleaded guilty in a Pinellas courtroom Tuesday to 20 felonies. Fletcher is now bracing for the biggest sales pitch of his life.
He turned down a prosecutor’s plea offer of 10 years in prison followed by 10 years of probation and instead threw himself at the mercy of the judge.
“You could be sentenced to as much as 126 years, you do understand that,” Pinellas Circuit Judge Michael Adams said.
“Yes sir, I do,” Fletcher replied. “It’s the right thing for me to do.”
Doing the right thing has seldom been Fletcher’s strong suit. The former Palm Harbor landscaper and self-styled investment opportunist now stands convicted of flimflamming 15 victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in get-rich-quick investments, Ponzi schemes and illegal contracting.
Prosecutor Liz Jack had piled up 20 charges against Fletcher by the time he entered an “open guilty plea” in court Tuesday, which has no guaranteed outcome when it comes to sentencing.
Fletcher’s victims ranged from IT company owners and neighbors to the elderly mother of a fellow inmate he tricked into depositing money into commissary accounts while he was awaiting trial on prior scams.
Even after jailers put Fletcher in solitary confinement, he still worked his wiles on another inmate through an adjoining air duct, promising millions in exchange for deposits into his commissary account, which Fletcher spent on Twix bars and other small pleasures.
“He’s still trying to wheel and deal with the judge,” said former investor Jackie Anteau who blames Fletcher for sending her into a financial spiral when his promise of high-profit quick returns failed to materialize.
”I want to see him punished for what he did,” Anteau said. “He needs to be put away.”
Fletcher’s fate will be determined by Judge Andrews at a sentencing hearing in the near future. As many as 15 of his victims will each have the opportunity to tell the judge what his schemes did to them.
Fletcher has admitted to wrongdoing in all 20 felony cases filed against him but will have a chance to tell his story and present witnesses in his defense as a means of convincing the judge to give him a lenient sentence.
The judge tried to talk Fletcher out of entering his “open” plea Tuesday, and his own lawyer wishes he’d taken the 10-year deal offered by Jack.
Anteau won’t have a chance to speak at the sentencing hearing but doesn’t mind sharing her views on what should happen. “I’d never let him see the light of day,” she said. “He needs to be kept behind bars so he can never do this to the public again.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The video says Robert Fletcher pleaded guilty to 32 charges. Those 32 charges were rolled into 20, including various schemes to defraud.
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