A federal judge on Friday sentenced for the former leader of Arrow Trucking to 7 and a half years in prison and ordered him to pay $21 million in restitution.
Doug Pielsticker pleaded guilty to bank fraud and tax fraud earlier this year. Federal prosecutors say he forged company invoices in order to get more money from the bank and fund his lavish lifestyle.
Pielsticker addressed the court just before he was sentenced. He apologized for his actions, saying he's sorry to his family, the court, and the people of Arrow. He said he's a different person than he was six years ago.
But federal prosecutors pointed to Pielsticker's greed, saying the bank is not the only victim in this case. The hundreds of Arrow employees who were left stranded with no money or transportation when the company went under in 2009 also were hurt by Pielsticker's actions, they said.
Prosecutors recommended Pielsticker get 6.5 to 8 years in prison, and the judge stayed with the higher end of that spectrum, sentencing him to 7 and a half years or 90 months.
The sentencing was supposed to take place on Thursday, but after hearing from one witness, the judge said he needed more time to sort everything out in the complicated case.
That witness was the former CFO of Arrow and a co-conspirator in the financial scheme.
Jonathan Moore claimed on the witness stand it was all Pielsticker's idea and he was just following orders. But defense lawyers challenged him on the witness stand, pointing out several inconsistencies in Moore's testimony.
They also pointed out there's no physical evidence showing that Pielsticker knew about the crime before Moore did.
“I think any time he spends in prison for him, for his mentality, for his way of life, is going to be devastating for him,” former Arrow employee Johnece Mercer said.
According to his lawyer, Pielsticker has a serious heart condition and is at high risk of sudden death. The judge will allow Pielsticker to self-report to prison so he may get the surgery he needs beforehand.
Mercer gave four years of her life to Arrow Trucking.
Her job as a background checker kept her out of the company's financial sphere, but near the end, she says it was obvious to everyone that Arrow was in trouble.
"It was the whispers around the office, people talking about financial issues,” Mercer said. “We didn't know what extent those financial issues were."
They soon found out. The company closed with little warning in December 2009.
The only clue came the day before, when company gas cards suddenly stopped working and paychecks weren't cashing, including Mercer's.
"At 4:30, before we were getting ready to leave, my bank said my check had been returned and unpaid. And so, it went downhill from there," she said.
Arrow's downfall changed the lives of about 1,700 workers across the country.
Mercer says she has no ill will toward Pielsticker, but she has no sympathy, either.
"I would never hate him, but he's getting what he deserves for his actions,” she said.