Monday, March 28, 2011
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'Spanky' Macher faces prison after guilty plea to fraud charges

Roland 'Spanky' Macher admitted to tax evasion, food stamp fraud and bankruptcy fraud. Sentencing was scheduled for June 22

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Updated 3:48 p.m. | Posted 1:04 p.m.

Roanoke businessman Roland "Spanky" Macher today pleaded guilty to tax evasion, bankruptcy fraud and food stamp fraud charges that could send him to prison for years.

"I'm here to accept full responsibility," Macher, 58, said in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

Macher admitted his guilt under an agreement in which prosecutors dropped other charges and said they would not oppose alternatives to prison if Macher qualifies. He faces a maximum of 30 years imprisonment on the three charges, according to the U.S. Attorney's office, though guidelines likely will recommend less.

U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad allowed Macher to remain free on bail pending sentencing, scheduled for June 22.

Macher and his lawyer, Paul Dull of Roanoke, said they hoped for a sentence of no more than a year in prison, plus a period of home confinement.

Macher said he just wanted to get the case behind him.

"I think my call of duty has not come yet ...," he said outside the courtroom. "I've got a lot of time to live, a lot of good to do and that's the plan."

Judge Conrad relaxed some of the bail restrictions on Macher to allow him more travel during business hours. The judge also allowed Macher to conduct real estate transactions if he notifies his probabtion officer in advance.

Posted: 1:04 p.m.

Roanoke real estate manager and one-time restaurant-chain developer Roland "Spanky" Macher is scheduled to plead guilty today to resolve federal fraud and tax evasion charges.
 
Macher is scheduled to be in U.S. District Court in Roanoke at 2 p.m. It is not clear yet in how many charges Macher will admit guilt. He faces charges of tax evasion, food stamp fraud, and four counts of bankruptcy fraud.
 
Filed last summer, the charges against Macher follow years of investigation into his finances and business dealings. In January, Macher was jailed after failing to turn over financial information to the probation officer supervising his pretrial release, or to inform her before buying and selling property as a judge had ordered. He was released this month after his accountant filed some of the information the judge sought.
 
The tax charge against Macher stems from more than a decade ago, when Macher ran the Spanky's restaurant chain. Prosecutors say he withheld payroll taxes from employees, but never paid it to the government.
 
Macher's restaurant empire crumbled, and the bankruptcy charges have their origins in a complicated bankruptcy case Macher launched about a decade ago. Prosecutors say Macher concealed assets or improperly transferred them to others.
 
The food stamp charge, prosecutors say, was prompted by Macher turning in false information about income and the number of children in his household in order to get food stamps to which he was not entitled.
 
Macher and his attorney, Paul Dull of Roanoke, have protested that a statute of limitations should have passed on some of the charges because the events that prompted them were so long ago. But U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad agreed with prosecutors that there was a chain of continuing actions that made the charges timely.
 
Dull also argued that it was unfair to prosecute Macher now, after years of investigation, because his chief defense witness -- his mother and business partner Shakie Macher -- died in 2009. Conrad denied that argument as well.
 
Macher has described himself as a rental property manager, controlling dozens of properties in Roanoke. The properties are owned by several LLCs, which in turn are owned by Macher's children.

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