Despite testimony from his family, friends and priest, a Charlottesville businessman was sentenced Thursday in Richmond to seven years in federal prison for pillaging the nest egg of his best friend’s widow, defrauding a Virginia bank and stealing from his fraternity.
Victor M. Dandridge III received an 84-month sentence from Judge Henry Hudson after pleading guilty to two counts of wire fraud and one count of bank fraud, charges stemming from a 10-year scheme that bilked Richmonder Lynne Kinder and her family of at least $3 million.
Dandridge also admitted to federal investigators that he defrauded Blue Ridge Bank in Luray, Virginia, and the Virginia Omnicron Chapter House in Charlottesville, associated with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Dandridge, 53, is a UVA alum and was a member of that fraternity.
The sentence was in line with the 87 months requested by federal prosecutors, but far heavier than the 12 months in prison and 11 years of supervised released argued for by Dandridge and his attorneys. They argued that less prison time would allow him to work and earn income for restitution.
Dandridge began managing Kinder’s money shortly after the 2005 death of her husband Trey, who left more than $6 million for his wife and two daughters. Dandridge and Mr. Kinder were lifelong friends, having grown up together in Roanoke.
Kinder took the stand at Thursday’s hearing, describing the emotions of suddenly becoming a widow and Dandridge’s offer to manage the family’s money because he “owed it to Trey.”
“It makes me sick to my stomach that he wakes up every day knowing he was ruining me financially,” said Kinder, alleging that Dandridge stole more than $6 million from her, differing from the $3.1 million calculated by the feds.
She said she believes Dandridge’s actions were premeditated.
“I constantly have to relive my husband’s death, confounded by the betrayal of his best friend,” she said.
Dandridge’s attorney, Francis Lawrence of Charlottesville firm St. John, Bowling, Lawrence & Quagliana, called four witnesses to frame the scheme as out of character to those who knew Dandridge best.
His wife of 24 years, Ann Claiborne Dandridge, on the witness stand said she and her husband have had a happy marriage, but admitted, “I too was betrayed by Vic.
“We too have been left in financial ruin because of his actions,” she said of herself and three daughters.
Jessica Aber, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, who prosecuted the case, said that while Dandridge was cooperative during the investigation, his scheme was driven by “pure greed and keeping up with Joneses.”
Explaining the $3.1 million that the government concluded was stolen, compared to Kinder’s $6 million estimation, Aber described a “salad spinner” of transactions that Dandridge used to cover his tracks and disperse the funds through various entities.
Dandridge then took the podium, telling the judge he deeply regrets his actions and saying his failing businesses snowballed on him, prompting him to begin to take funds from Kinder’s account.
“I had never found myself in this type of high-pressure situation,” he said. “In my mind I was simply borrowing the money until the situation stabilized.”
Judge Hudson didn’t buy that excuse when it came time to hand down the sentence.
“This was a 10-year scheme you put together,” Hudson said. “You took everything Mrs. Kinder had.”
Hudson ruled that Dandridge likely would be unable to commit to the accelerated restitution plan proffered by his attorneys and instead decided prison time should be the bulk of the punishment, followed by three years of supervised release.
Dandridge, who is also in the midst of personal bankruptcy, was ordered to pay $3.19 million in restitution to Kinder, $303,000 to Blue Ridge Bank and $118,000 to the fraternity association.
Those payments would be no less than $500 per month beginning 60 days after his release from prison.
In the end, to the surprise of Dandridge’s attorney, Hudson ordered the defendant immediately into custody of the U.S. Marshals to begin his sentence. That was despite pleas from Lawrence to allow him to self-report to prison at a later date.
“No sir, I don’t trust him,” Hudson said.