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CEO Of Phoenix-Based Company Sentenced To 7 Years, $50M In Restitution

The former CEO of a Phoenix-based auctioneering company has been sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay more than $50 million in restitution.

Deborah Weidenhamer previously pleaded guilty to seven counts of bank fraud in U.S. district court.

Weidenhamer admitted to fraudulently obtaining more than $50 million in bank loans for her failed business, American Auction Company Inc. According to court documents, Weidenhamer promoted her business as a successful, growing company. In fact, American Auction lost money every year since at least 2009.

Nevertheless, Weidenhamer persuaded banks to lend her money by submitting fabricated financial statements and other fraudulent documents. Her conduct was eventually discovered in an audit last year.

Weidenhamer then voluntarily cooperated with her lenders, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She provided a full confession.

When senior field correspondent Stina Sieg was 22, she moved to the desert. She hasn’t been the same since. At the time, the Northern California native had just graduated from college and was hankering for wide-open spaces. So she took a leap and wrote to nearly every newspaper in New Mexico until one offered her a job. That’s how she became the photographer for a daily paper in the small town of Silver City. And that’s when she realized how much she loved storytelling. In the years since, the beauty of having people open up and share their stories — and trust her to tell them — has never gotten old to Sieg. Before coming to KJZZ, Sieg was also a writer and photographer at newspapers in Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Moab, Utah; and the Smoky Mountains town of Waynesville, North Carolina. She always had her hand in public radio, too, including hosting Morning Edition on a fill-in basis at WNCW in North Carolina. It’s still the best music station she’s found. When she’s not reporting, chances are Sieg is running, baking, knitting or driving to some far-flung town deep in the desert — just to see what it looks like.