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Plotter Gets 4 Years in Agoura Fair Robbery

An Agoura man who police called the mastermind of the bungled, 1983 robbery of $230,000 from the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Agoura was sentenced Friday to four years in state prison.

Jeffrey Morton Messinger, 31, described in a probation department report as a “compulsive gambler,” was found guilty in April of one count of robbery by a Superior Court jury in Van Nuys.

Police said Messinger did not participate in the Renaissance Pleasure Faire robbery, but planned the crime. He hired three men, Chris Ponish, Russ White and Edward Shelton, to perform the June 13, 1983, robbery, according to the probation department report.

The robbery occurred as a fair security guard was depositing receipts from the day’s business. The robbers took two bags of money, but dropped the larger one containing $190,000 before making off with about $40,000, police said.

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In exchange for information about the robbery, authorities granted immunity to Ponish, who allegedly drove the get-away vehicle. Co-defendants White and Shelton each pleaded guilty to one count of robbery and have been sentenced to state prison.


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