David Lack (right)
Paul Wellman

David Lack, former GOP mover-and-shaker and general contractor, was sentenced to nine years and eight months behind bars for obtaining $1.2 million in bank loans in 2007 by fraudulent means and for bilking longtime friend and political colleague Mary Bell Snow out of $300,000.

Lack obtained the commercial loans in question by lying to officials with RaboBank and The Bank of Santa Barbara, stating he owned a duplex in Montecito and real estate in Texas, which he, in fact, did not. When the economy tanked in 2008, Lack defaulted on his loans. Only then did the banks discover that the collateral they thought existed was no good.

Lack broke onto the political scene in the early 1990s, emerging as a close confidante of Michael Huffington, the big-spending Texas oil and real estate billionaire who ran successfully to represent Santa Barbara in Congress in 1992 and then for the U.S. Senate — unsuccessfully — two years later.

Lack argued at his sentencing hearing that he always intended to pay the loans back and reminded Judge Jean Dandona that he donated $20,000 to victims of the Tea Fire. His attorney Robert Sanger lamented that the state prison system had abdicated on its mandate to rehabilitate offenders, and urged Dandona to sentence Lack to probation instead. Prosecuting attorney Brian Cota replied, “There’s no rehabilitation for arrogance and greed.” Based on the degree of cunning and duplicity involved, Cota argued Lack should have been sentenced to ten years and four months.

Despite Lack’s effort to portray himself as a hapless semi-literate throughout the trial, signing documents foisted upon him by unscrupulous commission-hungry loan officers, Dandona found that he committed perjury at least three times throughout the trial and sentenced him to the time recommended by county probation officers. Lack is facing additional charges on allegations he represented himself as a licensed contractor even after his contractor’s license had been revoked. Any payment received for such work, Cota argued, constituted theft. That trial is scheduled for November 22.

Lack — who had been free on bail throughout the trial — was taken into custody after sentencing was pronounced. Before then, he stated he “forgave” both the prosecutor and the judge.

This story has been updated since its original posting.


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