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Bank Fraud Scheme Lands Wealthy Businessman in Federal Prison

A wealthy businessman whose fraudulent schemes with a Sarasota homebuilder have earned him a sentence of 16 months behind bars in a federal prison. The scheme involved the purchase of a home owned by a Florida homebuilder with a loan that was fraudulently obtained. The homebuilder purchased a Florida home using a $1.6 million loan from one bank. When the homebuilder could not get the home to sell, he turned to the businessman for assistance. The businessman then falsified documents in order to obtain a new loan from a different bank. The new loan was used to pay off the $1.6 million owed by the homebuilder and also included a “kickback” payment to the businessman worth over $400,000. The “kickback” was not reported on the businessman’s tax returns.

A New Push to Punish White-Collar Criminals More Severely?

At the businessman’s sentencing hearing recently, the assistant United States attorney (AUSA) prosecuting the case pushed for a prison sentence despite evidence that the businessman had reformed his ways since the alleged fraudulent activity in 2007. The judge agreed with the AUSA and sentenced the man to 16 months in prison. The sentence and the reasons cited by the judge in support of the sentence may suggest that white-collar defendants convicted of fraudulent scams or schemes may be headed to prison as opposed to probation.

The following factors may play a role in determining whether a white-collar criminal will receive a sentence of imprisonment or a sentence to probation:

  • The dollar amount of the fraud and/or the amount of loss experienced by the victim(s);
  • The complexity of the scheme (i.e., how much time and resources did law enforcement need to expend in order to discover the scheme and prosecute the individual); and
  • Whether the accused cooperated with law enforcement when the scheme was discovered.

What may not be as compelling to a court (at least based on this case) in determining whether to sentence a convicted defendant to prison or probation may include:

  • The defendant’s remorse expressed at the sentencing hearing (mea culpas may not have the same effect they might once have had);
  • Efforts the defendant may have made since the beginning of the investigation to better his or her own life or contribute to society; and
  • The financial resources of the defendant (despite the businessman having reportedly $500,000 in annual income and being ordered to pay nearly $2 million in restitution, the court nevertheless sentenced the man to prison).

Contact a South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Whether this case represents a new trend of punishing white-collar criminals with prison or whether it is an isolated incident of one judge punishing one defendant harshly, those accused of white-collar crimes like fraud stand to lose greatly if convicted. Contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, South Florida criminal defense lawyer, today for assistance with your criminal charges. Jeffrey S. Weiner zealously defends clients charged with committing complex fraudulent schemes and will devote his firm’s resources and his years of knowledge to assisting you in obtaining the most favorable outcome possible. Contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. today by calling (305) 670-9919.

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