Thomas J. Stanley, the author of a blockbuster book series on the habits of millionaires was killed in a car crash Saturday afternoon near his home in Marietta, according to his family and Cobb County police. FAMILY PHOTO
Photo: Family photo
Photo: Family photo

Guilty plea in DUI crash that killed ‘Millionaire Next Door’ author

The man whose blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit two hours after a crash that killed a popular author was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty, the Cobb County District Attorney said.

Jeffrey Robert Fettig, 45, pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon to homicide by vehicle in the first degree and driving under the influence in the crash that killed Thomas Stanley, the author of the “Millionaire Next Door” series, DA Vic Reynolds’ office said.

On the afternoon of Feb. 28, 2015, Fettig was driving his Acura on Paper Mill Road near Atlanta Country Club Drive when his vehicle T-boned Stanley’s 2012 Corvette. Stanley, 71, died from his injuries.

Tests on Fettig’s blood nearly two hours after the crash showed a blood-alcohol content of .192 as well as the presence of Ativan in his system, according to investigators.

In court, Fettig admitted that before the crash, he had been drinking at a Buckhead bar, then drove to a restaurant in east Cobb and ordered a beer. The manager of that restaurant suspected Fettig was impaired and ordered staff not to serve him anything else to drink, then offered to call him a cab, the DA’s office said.

Fettig told the manager that someone was coming to pick him up, and the manager waited with him in the parking lot. But the manager was pulled away to deal with a situation inside the restaurant and when he looked up again, he saw Fettig inside his vehicle. The manager ran out to try to stop him, but Fettig drove away. The manager called 911 with his tag number, but the crash happened just a half mile up the road from the restaurant, the DA’s office said.

Stanley’s “Millionaire Next Door” books were based on his theories that self-made millionaires were more likely to be frugal rather than flashy with cash.

Before writing his book series, Stanley was a marketing professor at Georgia State University, a public speaker and consultant on selling to the rich. Before his 1996 breakout hit “The Millionaire Next Door,” his theories were gaining publicity, and he and his wife, Janet, figured the book, his fourth, would do well. “We had no idea,” she said.

The book got him on Oprah. It and a sequel “The Millionaire Mind” spent a collective 170-plus weeks on The New York Times’ best-seller list.

Janet Stanley read a letter in court regarding the loss of her husband.

“This crime has redefined who I am and who I will be for the rest of my life,” she said. “I had a wonderful partner in life, and now I do not.”

Fettig’s attorney, Kim Keheley Frye, told the court that her client, a father of two young children, had attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings both the night before the crash and earlier on the day of the crash. Fettig apologized for his actions.

“I can’t erase the horrific tragedy that I’m responsible for,” he said. “Through my actions, I have killed your husband, your father, a grandfather, and there’s nothing I can do about that. I am eternally sorry.”

Cobb Superior Court Judge Stephen Schuster sentenced Fettig to 15 years, with eight years to be served in prison and the balance on probation. Once he is released from custody, he may not drive any vehicle or drink any alcohol while on probation.

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