Paul Wyatt’s personal trauma was real. Unfortunately, so were his acts of theft. Wyatt, formerly president and business manager of Stage and Picture Operators Local 220, was sentenced in federal court on September 13 to six months in prison, plus six months of home confinement and three months of probation, for embezzling more than $35,000 from the Sioux Falls-based union. He also will have to make full restitution. Wyatt originally pleaded not guilty this May, but changed his plea to guilty.
Federal prosecutors had charged that Wyatt, now 48 and a resident of Box Elder, S.D., during January 2008-August 2009 stole $35,023 from the local, an affiliate of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). Defense attorney Tim Langley, in asking the court for leniency, stated that his client’s wife of 25 years died of cancer in 2006; to ease the pain, Wyatt had sunk into alcoholism and gambling, paying for the tab out of union coffers. Wyatt apologized and called his behavior “a very bad mistake.”