By David Dykes, Greenville News
Greenville, SC -- Former investment firm manager Arthur Field has been released from prison, eight days after he was sentenced for securities fraud and other criminal wrongdoing and five days after he reported to jail, a South Carolina Department of Corrections official said.
Agency spokesman Clark Newsom said Field, 60, was released Wednesday on five years probation.
The state attorney general earlier this week filed a motion asking the court to reconsider Field's sentence, which included credit for 15 months he spent in pretrial home confinement.
Reached Thursday night, Field declined to comment and referred questions to his attorney, Todd Rutherford of Columbia.
Field's sentence shows that defendants facing similar charges "should cooperate with the government and that's what he did," Rutherford told The Greenville News.
Field, who five years ago began dissolving his Upstate investment firm and wouldn't guarantee the return of $38 million owed to more than 600 noteholders, was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison.
Circuit Judge Cordell Maddox, citing Field's cooperation with prosecutors, ruled Oct. 8 that the prison sentence would be suspended once Field served 26 months. He then was to be on probation for five years, according to court records.
The judge ordered that Field receive credit for 33 days he spent in jail after he was arrested and 15 months he spent in pretrial home confinement.
Newsom said corrections officials calculated Field's release after factoring in credit given for good behavior. Under state law, such credit reduces a sentence and allows early release. Newsom declined further comment.
Pete O'Boyle, a spokesman for the state Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, said, "We will supervise his probation as specified by the court and our standard procedures."
Maddox ruled that Field must pay $2.8 million in restitution, and O'Boyle said his department will oversee its collection.
Records show Field reported to the Anderson County jail on Friday, as ordered by Maddox, and was in state Department of Corrections custody Tuesday.
A spokesman said Attorney General Alan Wilson, whose office prosecuted the case, declined to comment on Field's release.
Wilson's prosecutors filed a motion Wednesday asking the court to reconsider Field's sentence, arguing that giving him credit before June 7, 2013, for time spent in home confinement prior to his plea "would amount to an error of law."
In a previous case interpreting the statute addressing credit in sentencing, "time served" didn't include pretrial home confinement "because that was a condition of release from custody, not time in custody," prosecutors said in their filing.
In June, however, the statute was amended to provide that credit "may be given for any time spent under monitored house arrest," prosecutors said in the filing.
After Field was indicted by a state grand jury in June 2012, a judge set his bond at $2 million and Field went to jail, court records show.
Another judge granted Field's motion for a lower bond, which led to his release that July, court records show. But the judge ordered home confinement and electronic monitoring as a condition of his release, records show.
"In the end, I don't see how the attorney general can file a motion to reconsider the sentence," Rutherford said.
A hearing on the attorney general's motion hasn't been scheduled, but could be held next month, officials said.
In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Field admitted to 11 counts of securities fraud, two of conspiracy and one of forgery - all of the charges against him in a state grand jury indictment.
At last week's sentencing hearing in Anderson, Maddox called the case a judge's "worst nightmare" of a defendant who admitted guilt but cooperated with prosecutors.
Field could have faced up to 23 years in prison.
At his sentencing, Field apologized, telling the judge that he was "fully responsible" for what occurred and "terribly sorry" anyone lost money with his firm, Easley-based Capital Investment Funding.
"We're pleased with the sentence," Creighton Waters, an assistant deputy attorney general who led the prosecution effort, said afterward. "Arthur Field's going to be going to jail."
Waters also said, "These cases are difficult. They're different from the norm. People who don't have to sit in the judge's chair could state that they wish there was more time given. But the judge considered all the factors, including the fact that Mr. Field did come in, plead guilty, cooperate and was helpful" in the prosecutors' case against a second defendant, Greenville resident Fredrick Scott Pfeiffer.
Waters reiterated in court what he told Maddox at a previous hearing - that many CIF noteholders were elderly and financial losses left them depressed, unable to pay doctors' bills and living in poverty.
Noteholders, including one who said his family lost more than $1 million, told Maddox of financial and emotional scars that remained.
Court records show a judge approved a mediated settlement agreement in which Field's company acknowledged a judgment of nearly $38.5 million to 688 noteholders and he agreed to resign as the firm's manager.
CIF sold promissory notes to investors, according to court records. CIF then would re-lend money to other businesses, according to prosecutors and court records.
Pfeiffer pleaded guilty to two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy and is serving a 10-year prison sentence, which will be suspended once he has served six years, court records show.