Man to be sentenced for trying to steal PTA cash

Travis Allen Layman is accused of hogtying a man who happened to be working as a contractor inside a home

Travis Allen Layman. (MCSO)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Prosecutors are asking that a 42-year-old man be sentenced to 16.5 years in prison for a home invasion in which a “completely innocent third party” was tied up, threatened with a stun gun and firearm before having his wallet and work vehicle stolen.

Travis Allen Layman is set for sentencing on Friday before Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Thomas M. Ryan.

Portland Police say their investigation began on September 30, 2013 when they responded to the 7800 block of Southeast 114th Avenue on reports of a robbery. When they on scene they spoke with a construction contractor. He told officers that he was confronted by two men, later identified as Layman and Kovac.

The contractor had his hands zip tied behind his back, according to police. He is expected to testify Friday during the sentencing.

During the robbery, one of the men kept asking the contractor “where’d they put the money?” The contractor had no idea what the two men were talking about.

Layman and Kovac spent 10 minutes inside the house searching for what they believed would be $10,000 inside the house.They gave up and fled, but before doing so, they stole the contractor’s wallet, cellphone and work truck.

The contractor was able to free himself from the zip ties to get help from a neighbor.

Detectives spoke with the homeowner who told them that at the time, she was a member of a local “PTA” club, according to court records. The homeowner served as the association’s treasurer. She is expected to testify during Friday’s sentencing.

Shortly before Layman and Kovac entered the homeowner’s residence, she had several people over, including other PTA members, to count the money following a large fundraising effort, court documents state.

Detectives were able to identify Layman as an acquaintance of a woman who was at the home when all the money was being counted. The woman told police that Layman overheard her talking about the money from the fundraising event and that he followed her to the home.

Layman pled guilty in Dec. 2016 to second-degree robbery, second-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, attempted first-degree aggravated theft, and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

Layman became a key witness for prosecutors in Clackamas County as they prosecuted Lynn Benton for the death of his wife, Debbie Higbee-Benton.

Benton, a former police officer with the Gladstone Police Department, is facing life in prison after being convicted of aggravated murder.

Records show that Layman was facing a 111-month prison sentence in Clackamas County for an unrelated drug case. Prosecutors struck a deal with him and he was “given substantial consideration for his testimony” in the Benton case, according to court documents.

Prosecutors in Multnomah County are asking that he be sentenced to 200 months in prison for the Portland robbery. Layman’s criminal defense attorney, Gayle Kvernland, is asking that he be sentenced to 70 months in prison.

His co-defendant, Daniel Jason Kovac, was sentenced earlier this month to 80 months in prison after being convicted of second-degree robbery.

KOIN 6 News will have more information on the case after today’s formal sentencing.