UPDATE: Thornburg sentenced to 21 months in prison

Holly Richrath
David Thornburg

Letters of support from many community members along with testimony regarding the outstanding character of a once prominent Washington resident were not enough to keep him out of prison.

David Thornburg, 47, was sentenced at the Peoria Federal Courthouse Thursday to 21 months in prison, followed by a three-year term of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade also ordered Thornburg to pay a fine of $6,000 and $116,791.56 in restitution.

Thornburg’s face fell into his hands and he began to sob as McDade announced he could not support a sentence of probation.

“If this had been a one-time deal, I would seriously consider probation, but this wasn’t a one-time deal,” McDade said, adding that the total number of Thornburg’s fraudulent deceptions equaled 19.

On Sept. 4, 2009, Thornburg pleaded guilty to defrauding various Washington area real estate development companies of more than $174,000 from fall 2006 through February 2008.

Those companies include Gallery Land Group, Titanium Development Group, Titanium Investment Properties, Panther Creek Development Group, Gallery Homes of Washington and Mallard Crossing.

Thornburg had an ownership interest and a management position within all of the companies and had access to the financial accounts and assets. He admitted to endorsing company checks and debiting money, which was deposited into his personal account. He also said he intercepted third party checks, which he endorsed and deposited.  

Defense attorney Kevin Sullivan asked McDade to consider Thornburg’s past as an upstanding citizen when handing down a sentence.

“He’s not the typical thief. He’s not the typical embezzler; who takes the money and runs,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said that Thornburg did take money, but thought of it as repayment for funds that he had put into the businesses.

During a statement made by Thornburg in court, he asked for a lenient sentence that would forgo prison time so he would have the opportunity to work and pay the restitution and support his family.

“Please just take pity on me sir, so I can watch my kids grow up,” a tearful Thornburg said to McDade. “I hope that you will give me the opportunity to stay with my family because I love them. I love them so much.”

Thornburg’s wife of nearly 23 years, Brenda Thornburg, stopped to tell her husband she loved him on the way to the stand to describe his character to the court.

“Dave would have, and I likewise, done anything for the company,” she said.  

She added that she and her husband have donated time and money to various charitable organizations and that they are “good people.”

Brenda Thornburg said it would not be possible to provide for their two daughters without her husband’s help, financially.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Greggory Walters suggested Thornburg, who has been described as trusting, charismatic and well-liked, used those traits as “a sword and a shield.”

The same traits that allowed him to gain the trust of those he worked with as well as gain access to the money he stole, were now being referenced in asking for a lesser sentence, he said.

“There’s just a need for punishment,” Walters added.

Thornburg’s former business partner, Scott Underwood, said he has lost money, business projects and a partner that he considered to be a close friend because of Thornburg’s deception.

“The biggest loss has been the last two years of my life,” Underwood said.

Although rumors and controversy have caused business prospects and friends to distance themselves from him, Underwood said he is proud to have taken the “higher road.”

“I hope that David will finally own up to what he has done,” he added.  

Thornburg, who was released on bond Sept. 4, 2009, was released on the same bond agreement. He must report to prison on or before 2 p.m. July 7.