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Brittany Lawonn, Published March 06 2009

Villella’s wife to testify against him

The wife of a Fargo homebuilder accused of exploiting her 75-year-old father has agreed to testify against her husband in exchange for a plea agreement that calls for her to serve a 60-day sentence.

Larry Villella and Catherine Sadler-Villella are accused of exploiting her father out of more than $100,000 and forging his signature on a guaranty to back more than $1 million in loans to finance homes built by Larry Villella Custom Homes, Cass County District Court documents state.

Both previously pleaded not guilty to felony charges of exploitation of a vulnerable adult, forgery and misapplication of entrusted property. Villella is charged with conspiracy in the latter two charges.

Sadler-Villella is scheduled to plead guilty today to amended misdemeanor charges of forgery and misapplication of entrusted property, according to court documents.

Under the agreement, Sadler-Villella will admit to possessing a signed loan guaranty and defrauding Bremer Bank by knowing that her father had not personally signed it. She will also admit to transferring an interest in money or property that had been entrusted to her, court documents state.

The agreement calls for Sadler-Villella to testify against Villella at trial in exchange for a recommended 60-day sentence. Ten days would be served on work release. Fifty would be on electronic home monitoring. It also recommends paying $3,500 restitution.

When asked about his wife’s plea agreement Thursday, Villella said, “There’s really nothing to comment about.”

Villella, well-known for his “Hey, how you doin’?” advertisements, faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Brittany Lawonn at (701) 241-5541