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A man who used fake checks and credit cards to defraud Missoula-area businesses out of tens of thousands of dollars was sentenced to prison on Tuesday.

District Court Judge Karen Townsend sentenced Patrick Studley to 30 years in the Montana State Prison, with 20 of those years suspended.

She also ordered that Studley must pay back $76,583.87 in restitution to the victims of his fraud scheme.

Studley was arrested in January and this summer, as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, admitted to felonies for theft, deceptive practices and forgery.

“I’m really sorry to the victims,” Studley told Townsend on Tuesday. “I feel like my whole life is going to be predicated on working really hard to pay everyone back.”

According to charging documents filed in the case, Studley used various aliases to obtain fake checks and credit cards.

His fraud scheme included booking flights using a Missoula travel agency and paying with a check that later was returned for insufficient funds.

He also checked into a Missoula hotel using the same alias he bought the plane ticket with and paid with a fake credit card when he left. Studley also purchased a car from a dealership in Missoula and paid with a check that was returned as fraudulent.

After Studley's arrest, prosecutor Karla Painter — who called him an "expert con man" said he had more than 30 fraud convictions from South Carolina within the past decade.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.