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Ex-Fletcher organ salesman hits a stop

He is given 18 months' probation, during which he is ordered not to sell organs. He sold 11 Fletcher organs to a woman with Alzheimer's.

By COLLEEN JENKINS, Times Staff Writer
Published November 15, 2005

NEW PORT RICHEY - A former Fletcher Music Centers store manager won't do any jail time for selling 11 organs in 18 months to a woman with Alzheimer's, but he won't sell more organs any time soon either.

Scott Lewis Heyder pleaded no contest Monday to one count of exploiting the elderly. The plea agreement with prosecutors calls for the 37-year-old Spring Hill man to serve 18 months' probation, far less than the five years in prison he could have received for the charge.

He won't be allowed any contact with the 79-year-old woman he sold $25,400 worth of organs to from the Fletcher store at Gulf View Square mall in Port Richey.

Nor can Heyder sell organs to anyone else during his probation. He no longer works for Fletcher.

"He hasn't been an employee for months," spokesman John Heagney said Monday.

The company quickly tried to separate itself from Heyder after his arrest in May, reimbursing the woman's money and allowing her to keep the $12,464 organ she had purchased in January.

It was the grandest in a long line of organs she had been buying since Aug. 2, 2003, authorities said.

The first instrument cost $1,600. But five days later, she upgraded to a more expensive model. Then a $9,000 organ just two days after that.

The woman, a widow, thought she had bought no more than four organs. Her family noticed otherwise. They went to Heyder, the sales manager, and told him to stop selling organs to their mother because she had Alzheimer's.

When he didn't quit, the family turned to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

It wasn't the first time Fletcher Music Centers had been under investigation. More than two dozen elderly customers sued the company in 1998 after a longtime salesman involved them in an investment scam and sold them multiple organs.

Heyder's arrest prompted state Attorney General Charlie Crist to investigate the company, but the inquiry was closed in July after no pattern of companywide deception or unfair trade was found.

Heyder has said the woman's family never told him about her disease, Fletcher Music Centers' president previously told the St. Petersburg Times.

Monday, Bob Attridge, Heyder's attorney, wouldn't comment on the specifics of the case or where his client now works.

"He's just trying to move on with his life," Attridge said.

--Colleen Jenkins covers courts in west Pasco County. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6236 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6236. Her e-mail address is cjenkins@sptimes.com

[Last modified November 15, 2005, 03:00:33]


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