A chance meeting with five local farmers in a Le Roy diner helped convince Donnie Henderickson to take a logging job with David Henry Isabell, the 43-year-old, now-convicted timber con man, Henderickson said today.
Henderickson spoke after his appearance in Genesee County Court where he was given a conditional discharge on a single petit larceny conviction.
Isabell called Henderickson out to Le Roy to talk about a job on property owned by Lynn Belluscio, Henderickson said. It was the first time Henderickson had done anything with Isabell in 10 years, he said.
After the meeting at Belluscio's property, they went to a local diner and ran into the farmers, who greeted Isabell like an old friend, he said.
"After I got home, I said (to my wife), ‘I can’t believe it. He really changed his ways,’ " Henderickson said. "He was pretty shifty 10 years ago, and he hasn’t changed his ways. The only thing he’s done is he’s learned to finesse the BS a little more."
Henderickson described Isabell as charming -- a master of BS -- and said the 43-year-old Liverpool resident deserved a harsher sentence than he got.
He said he was sorry for what happened to the property owners Isabell conned.
He's also sorry for himself and what he's been through.
He said -- backed by his wife of 30 years -- that he's always been a legitimate logger, but this ordeal has ruined logging for him.
"It's a shame," he said. "When I drive out here, I see lots of good timber. I could have made a lot of money out here (in Genesee County) legitimately. I didn't need this.
"You know it's tough to make money (in logging) anyway. After this, all anybody has to do is get on the computer and pull a DEC report and see Mr. Henderickson’s name right there and they’re not going to deal with me."
To make a living now, Henderickson drives a log truck for another company.
The 49-year-old resident of Bernhards Bay was originally charged with grand larceny, 4th, 23 counts of timber trespass, grand larceny, 3rd, and scheme to defraud, 1st.
Those charges were reduced to petit larceny with a promise of no jail time on the condition that Henderickson testify truthfully against Isabell.
Rather than go to trial, Isabell entered a guilty plea to timber trespass and scheme to defraud, 1st. He was sentenced April 26 to six months in jail and five years probation.
Assistant Distirct Attorney Kevin Finnell said in court today that he is convinced that Henderickson was a partner in Isabell's timber scheme.
"I think Mr. Henderickson was well aware of what was going on with the home owners," Finnell said. "He was clearly part of this scheme, albeit to a lesser degree of culpability, but he certainly knew what was going on."
Even so, Finnell said, he didn't oppose the recommendation of the probation department that Henderickson receive a conditional discharge.
A conditional discharge means that if Henderickson isn't re-arrested for anything in the next year, the petit larceny conviction will be dropped from record.
"For the victims, I’m very glad they got the restitution they got, but as far as Mr. Isabell and (his sentence), what he did was wrong," Henderickson said.