Earlier this year, Workforce West Virginia returned $87,000 -- the money that Comar had charged to the grant -- to the federal Department of Labor. Workforce West Virginia initially sought to recoup the full amount, but agreed to drop the request after federal prosecutors said they could only prove that Comar had misspent $10,000 to $30,000.
Copenhaver admonished each of the defendants Tuesday, saying they held positions of private and public trust.
At one point, the judge singled out Hendershot for approving $10,000 in dubious consulting fees for Gardner and Mandi Felty, Martin Bowling's girlfriend at the time. Bowling later received Felty's $5,000 as an employee bonus for helping to secure the grant. The money was returned amid state and federal investigations, but Hendershot didn't report the reimbursement.
"Mr. Hendershot managed to conceal the return of money from Workforce West Virginia," Copenhaver said. "Mr. Hendershot was intimately involved in all stages."
Martin Bowling's sentence was reduced, in part, after Copenhaver agreed with federal prosecutors that Bowling cooperated in the investigation and provided "substantial assistance."
Prosecutors said they still would have been able to convict Hendershot, Mary Jane Bowling, and Gardner without Martin Bowling's help. But they said his assistance expedited the probe.
Bowling must also pay $13,733 in restitution as part of his sentence.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said, "This case is indicative of our commitment to hold accountable those who defraud programs meant for those in need -- whether those funds are meant to assist with medical care, housing, or as in this case, much needed job training and development for the people of West Virginia."
Earlier Tuesday, the sentencing took an unusual twist, after Hendershot failed to show when the hearing started at 1:30 p.m.
Hendershot's attorney, Bob Martin, said he and Hendershot, who now lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C., believed the hearing was Wednesday. After realizing the mistake, Martin said he immediately chartered a flight to Charleston for Hendershot.
Copenhaver rescheduled the hearing for 3 p.m., and Hendershot arrived in the courtroom with his wife and other family members about 35 minutes later.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.