Jail sentence for Memphis antique gallery owner who cheated consignors

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (ACNI) – The former owner of an antique gallery who pleaded guilty in August of bilking dealers and consignors out of more than $140,000 in merchandise has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay partial restitution.

Victoria A. Padgett, 59, former owner of Crump-Padgett Antique Gallery in Memphis, was sentenced Nov. 17 to one year in prison, which was suspended except for 30 days, followed by three years’ probation. Padgett was ordered to pay $4,472 in restitution to the state for unpaid sales tax that she collected but failed to remit from Aug. 1, 2003 through Dec. 31, 2003.

“I’m happy that she has accepted guilt, to the extent that she accepted guilt, with her guilty plea. I’m happy that finally there was a determination that what she did was wrong,” said Steve Jones, assistant district attorney.
The sentencing is little consolation to the hundreds of dealers and consignors who did not receive payment for antiques that were sold in the multi-dealer gallery.

Criminal Court Judge Paula Skahan ordered Padgett to repay her victims, including the state of Tennessee, $1,200 a month in restitution while she is on probation. The repayment plan is far less than the amount Padgett actually owes because Tennessee law requires a judge to make a finding on that amount a defendant has the ability to repay.

“The concept behind it is, you can’t have debtors prisons,” said Jones. “You can’t put somebody on probation for a year and order them to pay $33 million in restitution when they have a $30,000-a-year job. There’s no way they can complete that.”

Jones added that Padgett’s victims realized they would not receive full restitution when the bankruptcy liquidation did not satisfy all the debts. Crump-Padgett Antique Gallery filed for bankruptcy court protection in June 2004.

Attorney Jeffrey Jones of Bartlett, Tenn. (no relation to the assistant prosecutor), said that under Tennessee law the sentence was appropriate for the crime.

“It’s a property crime, and she had never been in trouble before. That’s pretty much an ordinary sentence,” said Jones, who represented one of the antique dealers who was not paid for merchandise sold through Crump-Padgett Antique Gallery.

“A lot of folks felt she conned them. Emotions ran deep. I know when we did those meetings with creditors in bankruptcy court – you usually have four or five people for any first meeting of creditors. In her case there were hundreds of people there,” said Jeffrey Jones.

The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to the indictment, arrest and subsequent guilty plea of Padgett to one count of sales tax evasion.    

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