CHEYENNE – Staci Frain said in Laramie County District Court on Friday that Greg A. Berti “needs to rot in prison, for all I care.”
Berti, 45, pleaded no contest Friday to a single count of bigamy that was brought against him in May 2015.
Immediately after, District Judge Thomas Campbell sentenced him to spend 12 to 18 months in prison for the crime.
Court documents say Berti married a woman in Marin County, California, in October 2008, and did not divorce her before marrying Frain in Cheyenne on Feb. 7, 2015.
“At a minimum, it’s morally corrupt,” Campbell said.
Marrying someone while knowing another spouse remains alive is punishable in Wyoming by up to five years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine.
Campbell said bigamy cases are fairly rare in Wyoming and don’t often call for prison sentences, but “this case certainly does.”
A no-contest plea like the one Berti entered literally means “I will not contest it.” The plea cannot be considered an admission of guilt in civil cases, but otherwise has the same effect as a guilty plea. It also frees the defendant from having to admit to the facts of the case under oath.
Berti already is serving a two- to four-year prison sentence at the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins for committing bigamy in Washakie County last year as well.
Laramie County District Attorney Jeremiah Sandburg told Campbell the Laramie County bigamy happened first, but Washakie County was quicker to file charges.
A plea agreement reached in the case suggested the 12- to 18-month sentence Berti received.
Berti’s attorney, public defender Brandon Booth, argued in favor of that sentence.
Booth told the judge he spoke with officials in California and found out that a petition to dissolve the marriage had been filed, but nothing ever came of it.
He also said Berti does not intend to seek early release on parole, so he will be serving his entire four-year sentence from Washakie County.
In accepting the plea deal, Campbell agreed to run both of Berti’s bigamy sentences at the same time.
Frain, however, asked for the opposite.
“I don’t feel validated,” she told the judge, adding later that she feels like a laughingstock.
Frain explained that Berti walked out on her, her 2-year-old son and her 12-year-old son and married a woman in Worland within a month.
“I thought we had a great future ahead of us,” she said, adding that “my kids have been really screwed up over this whole thing.”
Frain told the judge Berti has been in prison and jail before, and she thinks he wants to be there.
“He can sit there and play Xbox (video games) if he wants to,” Frain said.
Despite the trouble the incident has caused her, Frain said she’s thankful for the experience because it pushed her to participate in CLIMB Wyoming, a local nonprofit that trains and places low-income single mothers in careers to support their families.
Frain said she now works 80 hours a week in the summer as a truck driver to support her children.
“I may never trust another man again,” she told the judge. “(But) at the same time, I learned how to take care of my family.”
Campbell said he couldn’t in good conscience run Berti’s sentences one after the other, but that Berti’s sentence “isn’t nothing,” even though it doesn’t fix what Frain had to go through.
“The best we can do is stack (convictions) on Mr. Berti,” he said.
Berti declined his right to make a statement on his own behalf. “I really don’t have nothing to say here,” he told the judge.