LONOKE (KATV) -
With 33 victims and $230,000.00 owed, it was a safe bet that Gene Hickman was going to prison.
The question was...for how long?
After hearing from several people victimized by Hickman's dishonesty, Judge Sandy Huckabee sentenced the scam artist to 16 1/2 years in prison.
Almost two months ago, Gene Hickman asked for time to come up with the money to repay his victims.
After failing to do so, he arrives to put his fate in the hands of the court.
Also arriving...many of those who once trusted Hickman with plans, dreams...and money.
One told Judge Huckabee that Hickman lied to him every step of the way. Another called Hickman not a man, but a scam. And yet another told the court Hickman promised the moon but delivered only a small load of lumber.
Hickman left the courthouse in handcuffs, saying nothing to the people whose losses ranged from $35,000.00 to $3,900.00.
Hickman has been ordered to pay it all back...after prison.
"They always order it but I always tell victims...when we're sending them to jail it's not about money," says prosecutor Chuck Graham. "They're probably never going to see it."
"Well I'm glad he was sentenced but I don't think it was enough," says Louise Hamm of Lonoke. "But of course that is the judge's call. But in my estimation he should never get out."
Ms. Hamm says she trusted Hickman with almost $6,000.00 to construct a small building in memory of her late husband.
Despite her wishes...Hickman will get out one day. He could be parole eligible in less than three years.
Air date: March 17th, 2014