Kevin W. Olson, a former Lackawanna car dealer, began what will amount to six months in the Erie County Correctional Facility on Monday for cheating a Georgia contractor out of $125,000 several years ago.
Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio ordered Olson, 50, be immediately taken from court to begin a one-year jail term. DiTullio also ordered him to begin paying his businessman victim restitution at the rate of $400 a month for 10 years after his release from the Alden jail.
The judge had told the former owner of Kevin Olson Auto Sales on Abbott Road on Sept. 20, when he pleaded guilty to a second-degree grand larceny charge, that she had been considering a nonjail term. But she changed her mind because of his criminal record and his victim's letter to her.
The victim, a longtime friend of Olson in Western New York, wrote of how "extremely traumatic" he found it to be the victim of a white-collar crime, the judge noted.
Prosecutor Justin T. Wallens told the judge that Olson was twice convicted of domestic violence incidents in the St. Petersburg, Fla., area, where he now lives, following his pretrial guilty plea in the business swindle.
Before having Olson handcuffed and taken from court, the judge noted his criminal record included embezzlement and bad-check cases dating back locally and in Florida to 1979 and a number of drunken driving arrests in both states.
Olson, who had been free on bail, told the judge, "I got caught up in something that was too much for me." His attorney, Julie Atti Rogers, said Olson, with only a high school education, "was not prepared to run a multimillion-dollar business," and "finances got ahead of him."
Atti Rogers said civil proceedings are continuing against business associates who allegedly swindled Olson.
Wallens said Olson, who opened the auto dealership in early 2007, fled to Florida in November 2008 after swindling his longtime friend, now a Georgia businessman, whom the prosecutor refused to identify.
Olson spent some time behind bars after he was captured last year in St. Petersburg. As a result of the state's good-time sentencing laws, he will be jailed for another six months or so, court officials said.