The son of Alabama’s Secretary of Law Enforcement was placed on five years’ probation for his role in a scheme that stole more than $225,000 from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility in the wake of the BP oil spill. His co-defendants, who included other members of Sec. of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier’s family, received sentences of time served to 27 months in a federal prison.
In joint sentencing proceedings conducted Feb. 21, Christopher Chance Collier, Sec. Collier’s 24-year-old son, was ordered to make restitution to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust in the amount of $34,538.99 and participate in a location monitoring program for 60 days, which does not include electronic monitoring.
Harvey Eugene Collier, Sec. Collier’s brother, received a sentence of 27 months and was ordered to pay $44,741.89 in restitution.
Plea agreements reached last November indicated that Harvey Collier orchestrated a scheme in which he and his co-defendants submitted paperwork to the claims facility for lost time onboard the M/V Lady Charlotte. Except for Harvey Collier, none of the defendants had ever worked on the boat and Harvey Collier did not work onboard the boat at the time of the oil spill, the investigation found.
Also ensnared in the scheme was Sec. Collier’s nephew Wayne Eric Collier and Sec. Collier’s former sister-in-law, Tonya Renee Collier. Wayne Collier was sentenced to time served, placed on three years of location monitoring and ordered to repay $30,000. Tonya Collier was placed on three years’ probation, 365 days of location monitoring and ordered to repay $33,000.
Of the two other defendants, Michael Thomas Stiener was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to pay $87,065 in restitution while Bobby W. Rodgers was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay 27,292 in restitution.
Christopher Collier’s sentence included a “downward departure” from sentencing guidelines, requested by prosecutors. Tommy Loftis, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said a downward departure is something the government can request if a defendant has been especially cooperative or the loss “is not what they thought.” But any departure from minimum sentencing guidelines are ultimately made by the judge.
“Those decisions are made by the court and we respect those decisions,” Loftis said.
For charges of access device fraud and mail fraud, each defendant faced up to 20 years in prison and fines as much as $250,000. None of the defendants were fined beyond their restitution.
Christopher Collier was also arrested in April 2013 and charged with four counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.