Ohio judge mulls high sentence for trail-hiking fugitive

CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal judge is considering a tougher sentence than guidelines call for in the case of a Kentucky accountant who embezzled $8.7 million before hiking the Appalachian Trail for six years as a fugitive.

U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott (duh-LAHT’) this week sent notice to attorneys in the James Hammes (ham-UHS’) case that she’s weighing factors including the high money amount and his flight to avoid prosecution.

Dlott will sentence Hammes on June 22 in Cincinnati. He pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud.

The U.S. attorney’s office is seeking more than seven years in prison. Hammes’ attorneys are asking for three years, saying he’s remorseful and trying to redeem himself.

Sentencing guidelines indicate a range of 63 to 78 months. That maximum is nine months below what prosecutors are seeking.

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