BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — An entertainer in the resort town of Branson, Mo. who convinced his audience to donate thousands of dollars to a fake adoptive children’s charity has been sentenced to five years probation.
James Patrick Garrett, a 65-year-old best known for his tribute to John Denver, was also ordered to pay $82,000 in restitution when he was convicted Friday of wire fraud, the Springfield News-Leader reported. He pleaded guilty last year.
Authorities said Garrett conceived of the program in 2012 by creating a company named Diamond Jimm Ranch, making himself president and a member of its board of directors.
The company was supposed to provide housing, education, food and other needs to displaced or homeless children. But prosecutors said Garrett used the donated money to eat out, pay credit cards and pay rent and taxes.
Garrett was originally scheduled to be sentenced in January, but Judge Roseann Ketchmark asked for an extension to allow the government to explore whether some of the money Garrett was or was not owed could be donated to charity.
After some research, it was determined that approximately $52,000 of the restitution money would go to FosterAdopt Connect, an organization that works in Missouri and Kansas to help children and families navigate the foster system. family.
The rest of the restitution money will go directly to Garrett’s victims who deposited cash or checks in a donation box after Garrett’s shows.
“I take full responsibility,” said Garrett, who sold his home to pay restitution. “I and I alone have dismantled my life, my career, my relationships.”