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Lake of the Pines con says he plans to make things right

Reported victim says main concern is not Campbell’s punishment
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Some local residents shared their opinions about a Lake of the Pines man’s court case and potential prison sentence after a change of plea Monday. William Lawson Campbell, who was 64 when he was arrested in October, pleaded no contest Monday afternoon to 11 of his 29 felony counts of false pretenses. He is expected to be sentenced at 9 a.m. Oct. 13 in Dept. 4 of the Nevada City courthouse. The remainder of the charges were dismissed with a Harvey Waiver, which means they can still be considered during sentencing. Campbell spoke briefly to the Journal Wednesday for the first time since his October arrest. He said he doesn’t know whether or not he will stay in Auburn in the future, and he hopes to make things right with those involved in his cons. Anna Ferguson, assistant district attorney for the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office, said while her office made a deal that Campbell would receive no more than eight years in prison, Judge Thomas Anderson is expected to give a sentence of no more than five years and eight months in prison. Sgt. Steve Tripp, of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, has said Campbell took $650,000 from local community members for different scams. Many of his reported victims were his Lake of the Pines neighbors and friends. Ferguson said because of the Harvey Waiver, the judge can still consider the full $650,000 in Campbell’s sentencing, and the District Attorney’s Office will be asking for that amount to be paid in restitution. She said it is not known how much Anderson will order Campbell to pay. Lake of the Pines resident Harry Lent III reportedly lost $45,000 to Campbell through a scam. Lent said he isn’t satisfied with how the case is being resolved. “I’m curious why so many counts were dismissed,” Lent said. “I know more than 11 people that got nailed by him. As far as the D.A. wanting eight years and the court knocking it down to five, why would they do that?” Lake of the Pines resident Richard Barber, who was not a listed victim of Campbell’s, but knew him, said the possible sentence doesn’t seem like enough. “From just what I hear, it sounds like he’s getting off pretty easy considering the damage he did to a number of people, which reportedly was way more than 11 people,” Barber said. “It just seems like a fairly light sentence for the amount of financial damage that he did, reportedly.” Former Lake of the Pines resident Jim Beall has said he gave Campbell $170,000 to invest, some of which has been recovered. Beall said he doesn’t think Campbell’s possible sentence is unique to his case. “I think that is unrelated to him personally,” Beall said. “That is the way the court system works. The judicial system is reluctant to really go into those cases in depth. They would rather settle out of court, because they are so backed up and that’s their mode of operating.” Beall said he is not a vengeful person, and his main concern is not how much Campbell should be punished. “Given his age, I’m sure the sentence has got to hurt, no matter what it is,” Beall said. “But I really think the main concern I have is that people like him are prevented from hurting people and that they get help somehow to recover from their own obsessions. In his case, he seems to have an obsession with conning people.” Beall said he wasn’t sure if he would attend the sentencing or not. Ferguson said at Monday’s court proceeding Campbell said through his attorney, Greg Klein, of Nevada City, that he had a partner. Ferguson said Campbell expressed that everything that happened was his partner’s fault. Ferguson said the District Attorney’s Office didn’t have any evidence that there had ever been a partner. “People often have 11th hour excuses for their actions,” Ferguson said. “So, I’m not sure there is really truly another individual out there. The reports indicate all the contact was directly with Mr. Campbell, so I think this is probably news to all of the victims.” Klein was unavailable for comment about the case Tuesday and Wednesday. In a phone interview Wednesday, Campbell said he wasn’t sure what to say about the potential sentence. “I can’t really say anything,” Campbell said. “It is what it is. There is so much more to the story that you guys don’t have that I kind of wish you would just leave me alone. There has already been so much damage in Auburn in everything. Nobody knows the whole story really.” Campbell said he and his wife are still living in their Lake of the Pines home, but he doesn’t know if they will stay in Auburn in the future. “We don’t know,” he said. “We have no idea. We don’t even know where we are going to live. We have no idea of anything right now. Everything is totally up in the air. We have some obligations to take care of right now.” The auction of Campbell’s home has been delayed several times and is now set for 12:30 p.m. Sept. 19 in front of the Nevada City courthouse on Church Street, according to Agency Sales and Posting. Campbell said after reports came out about his home being auctioned people left nasty letters at the home and put dog poop in his mailbox, which scared him and his wife. Campbell said he is remorseful for what happened and plans to somehow in the future take care of the people involved. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com