Restitution hearing will answer questions for victims

Are the victims of the Medford developer convicted of racketeering ever going to see any of their lost money? I read that there was to be a restitution hearing months ago. But nothing else has been in the paper. What's going on with this case?

— Ellie M., Eagle Point

How much money, if any, James Charles Nistler must repay the victims of his ill-fated real estate development scheme will be answered soon, according to Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Gerking.

Nistler, 80, was unanimously convicted on one count of racketeering, eight counts of securities fraud and eight counts of first-degree aggravated theft in a November jury trial before Judge Ray White. He remains free on bond as he appeals his 19-month prison sentence, per the decision of Judge Lorenzo Mejia.

At a restitution hearing in mid-June, prosecutor Rachel Bridges and Nistler's attorney, Michael Kellington, each attempted to persuade Gerking to determine the restitution matter in their favor.

A financial restitution amount of $304,000 was presented at the sentencing. Bridges sought to add $47,000 to that amount for two more victims. Kellington argued no money is owed by Nistler.

Gerking said Thursday he expects to render his ruling in the next week. So stay tuned.

Nistler, who was a high-ranking U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development official during the Reagan administration and claims to have built more than 800 homes in Jackson County, took in $1.2 million from investors purportedly to build houses, but actually spent less than $400,000 of the money on the project, Bridges argued at trial.

Judge White in December sentenced Nistler to 17 months on the racketeering charge, 13 to 19 months on the theft charges and 12 months on the fraud charges, but set all the sentences to run concurrently.

Nistler was to report to jail on Jan. 24. But Mejia ruled Nistler would be allowed to remain out on bond pending his appeal. However, Mejia also ruled if the Oregon Court of Appeals upholds Nistler's conviction, he must begin serving his sentence, even if he plans to continue his appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

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