James H. Bingman Jr., 49, of Dillingham was sentenced Wednesday, following his conviction last November on a charge of felony coercion and fear accusation of crime. Bingman will spend 30 days in prison as part of a 12 month sentence with 11 months suspended.
Judge Patricia Douglass also added 3 years of probation to the sentence, and Bingman will be required to complete 120 hours of community service during each of the years he is on probation.
Bingman was tried last November in Dillingham. Assistant District Attorney Doug King was the prosecuting attorney in the trial.
"He was charged with coercion, which is class C felony under Alaska law," said King. "Basically it prohibits somebody from threatening to use law enforcement to prohibit another individual from doing something they're allowed to do, or to force them to do something they're not allowed to do."
Bingman was arrested by Dillingham police on Aug. 23, last year, after evicting a tenant at an apartment property he manages.
"Mr. Bingman placed a sign on the door of an apartment that was in the possession of Maria Roberts," said King. "She was prohibited from entering her apartment, even though she had the legal right to do so at the time. He threatened to have her arrested if she entered, and when the jury heard that, it was a pretty open and shut case."
Bingman acted as his own attorney during the trial. He told the jury that he and Roberts had entered into a contract that stipulated he could evict her if she failed to make agreed upon payments on over $10,000 in unpaid rent. When the payments weren't made on time last August, Bingman changed the locks, and told Roberts her belongings would be retrieved later.
A police officer was called to the apartments that day, and Bingman told Roberts she would be arrested for breaking and entering if she tried to go into the apartment. Instead, Bingman was arrested, charged with fear accusation of crime.
The contract signed between Bingman and Roberts wasn't legal under the Alaska Landlord Tenant act, which could have been handled in a civil case. But the State of Alaska brought felony criminal charges against Bingman. A jury deliberated for several hours before delivery a guilty verdict last November.
King had asked the judge Wednesday to issue a stiff sentence to send a message.
"I think this sentencing is important because it shows that our police are not beholden to any one person or group. They represent all of us," King said. "If someone threatens to use the police in an improper manner, it degrades their entire perception to the community, and the community is hurt by that."
Bingman was originally scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 1, but asked Judge Douglass for time to find a lawyer to help him proceed. The judge gave him 45 days to do so. He filed another request for continuance Tuesday, which was denied. Bingman acted as his own counsel Wednesday.
Following the sentencing, he was fingerprinted and remanded to custody.