A 61-year-old Montandon man accused of bilking a Tunkhannock car dealership of nearly $300,000, was sentenced Friday to four years probation.

Donald S. Dodson appeared before Judge Kenneth Seamans in Tunkhannock.

“Your honor, I just wanted to say how sorry I am for what happened,” Dodson said.

Dodson’s attorney, Paul Ackourey said his client had returned $100,000 of the funds and fully intended to pay the rest, identified by District Attorney Jeff Mitchell as $193,951.34.

Ackourey said that Dodson led “a good and wholesome life up to the time of this situation” with no previous criminal record, and “what happened was an aberration.”

The attorney said that since his arrest more than a year ago, Dodson sought psychiatric help related to the incident and he had no intention ever to realize material gain, “but was acting out passive, aggressive behavior,” directed at his employer, Gateway Ford, of Tunkhannock.

Judge Seamans said, “You mean your client doesn’t have to work for a living?”

Ackourey said, “No, I’m not saying that as an excuse but trying to offer an explanation.”

Dodson initially faced 104 charges of forgery for checks written between Feb. 3, 2010, and June 3, 2013, of this year.

Under a guilty plea agreement, hammered out in November, DA Mitchell said Dodson only faced one felony count of forgery.

On Friday, Mitchell said Dodson was cooperative and clearly intended to pay the remaining money back and didn’t think that jail time would necessarily serve any useful purpose.

Judge Seamans noted that under his guilty plea agreement Dodson faced a maximum penalty of seven years in state prison as well as a $15,000 fine, and underscored that he never faced a defendant who took the amount of money that Dodson did and not face some incarceration.

He said the worst part of the case is what you did to your employer.

Seamans asked, “If you weren’t happy, why didn’t you just quit?”

In handing down the four years probation sentence with a $1,000 fine, he filed an order to transfer probation responsibility to Northumberland County.

He told Dodson that if he did not follow the terms of his probation he could still face the maximum incarceration time.

The alleged forgeries occurred while Dodson had worked as controller/bookkeeper for Gateway Ford.

From July 2011 to June 2013, he also served as lay minister of the Bethel United Methodist Church in Falls Twp., Wyoming County.