Santa Rosa fraudster Gary Armitage out of prison

Gary Armitage, the former Santa Rosa investment adviser convicted in 2013 of swindling hundreds of North Coast residents out of their retirement funds, was released from prison last month after serving only a portion of his 10-year sentence.

Armitage, now 65, was released from the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran near Visalia on July 22, and is now under the supervision of the Sonoma County Probation Department, said Bill Sessa, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections.

Concord resident Andy Fine said he always felt the sentence against Armitage was too lenient, and now his early release just rubs salt in that wound.

“I am sick that this bastard got such a kiss on the cheek sentence for what he did to so many of us,” Fine said.

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch noted that Armitage was not prosecuted in Sonoma County but rather in Redding, where Koenig’s company was based.

“It is unfortunate that he was released so early given the damage that was inflicted by his greed,” Ravitch said.

It was not immediately clear where Armitage is currently living.

Armitage and his co-conspirator, James Koenig of Redding, orchestrated one of the largest Ponzi schemes in state history, bilking more than 2,000 people, most of them retirees, out of their life’s savings.

Then-Attorney General Jerry Brown said the men “callously swindled thousands of individuals out of $200 million to bankroll their extravagant lifestyles.”

The former head of AGA Financial in Santa Rosa at one point owned a luxury home in Healdsburg and an 80-acre castle-themed estate in the mountains west of Redding.

Armitage was arrested in 2009 and served just over 2 years in jail awaiting trial before being released on bail in 2011. He struck a plea bargain with state prosecutors on the eve of trial. His partner Koenig, who had a previous federal felony fraud conviction, went to trial, was convicted on 36 felony counts, and was sentenced to 43 years in prison.

Luis Patino, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said even though Armitage served less than 10 years, he served the full sentence he was required to based on various sentencing rules.

“Under the law, he served his full term as defined by law,” Patino said.

Armitage received more than four years of credit for his time served in county jail before entering state prison on April 16, 2013, Patino said. That’s because at sentencing he received credit for good behavior for the more than 2 years he served awaiting trial. This credit, known as day-for-day credit, effectively gave him credit for serving two days for every day he served in jail in Redding.

That credit likely continued for the ?2.2 years he spent in prison, Patino said.

In addition, Armitage served “a significant amount of time in a conservation camp,” Patino said. These wilderness camps are where inmates stay while helping battle forest fires. In such cases, inmates receive three days of credit for every day served in the camps, he said.

Not all inmates in the camps actively fight fires.

Such camps need a variety of prisoners in support roles, such as cooks, Patino said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin ?McCallum at 521-5207 or ? ?On Twitter @srcitybeat.

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