GREAT FALLS - A former co-owner of a Great Falls restaurant has been sentenced to a year in federal prison for making fraudulent charges on customers' credit cards.

Kevin O'Connell, now of Buffalo, N.Y., was sentenced Monday.

U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon also ordered O'Connell to pay just over $17,000 in restitution.

O'Connell and two business partners opened the Indigo Lounge in October 2003.

In March 2005, a few credit card companies and patrons noticed they had been charged $3,000 to $5,000 above what was owed for their meals.

In May 2005, a businessman paid for lunch at the restaurant. Prosecutors say over the course of the next month, O'Connell made nine unauthorized charges totaling $30,000 on the man's card.

O'Connell's attorney told Haddon his client started stealing when he couldn't repay business loans.

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