Hereford House defendant rejected plea deals

October 22, 2012

The Kansas City Star on October 22, 2012 released the following:

“BY MARK MORRIS
The Kansas City Star

Kansas City restaurateur Rodney J. Anderson rejected three possible plea bargains before going to trial this morning on fraud and arson conspiracy charges in the Hereford House fire.

Federal prosecutors made the plea disclosures at an 8 a.m. hearing held by U.S. District Judge Greg Kays before jury selection began.

Anderson, who is on trial with Vincent Pisciotta and Mark A. Sorrentino, rejected two offers that would have had prosecutors recommending sentences of five years in prison, one with an agreement to cooperate with prosecutors and one without. The most recent offer, made last month, would have had a binding seven-year sentence with a cooperation agreement.

Anderson’s lawyer, J.R. Hobbs, confirmed that those were the terms of the offers.

Lawyers representing Pisciotta and Sorrentino said their clients were never interested in plea negotiations so no formal offers were ever made.

Jury selection was underway Monday morning, to be followed by opening statements from prosecutors and defense lawyers.

Anderson is accused of hiring Pisciotta and Sorrentino to burn his restaurant in Oct. 2008 so he could collect insurance money. Those funds, prosecutors have alleged, would have paid for renovations to make the Hereford House, once located at 2 E. 20th St., more competitive with new restaurants in the Power & Light District.

Anderson’s lawyer is expected to argue that his client’s ownership interest in the restaurant was too small for him to have expected any significant recovery from insurance funds.

Lawyers representing Pisciotta and Sorrentino confirmed in court Monday that their cases hinge on undermining the identification of their clients as the arsonists, who can be seen on surveillance video bringing containers of gasoline into the restaurant late the evening of Oct. 19, 2008.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Jerry Williams to ask for leniency in Tuesday’s federal court sentencing

June 12, 2012

NaplesNews.com on June 11, 2012 released the following:

“By LAURA LAYDEN

FORT MYERS — Once facing fraud charges that could have put him away for life, Jerry Williams, the ex-CEO of Orion Bank in Naples, won’t spend more than 15 years in prison.

Under his plea agreement, he can’t get any more time than that for his crimes.

But he’s asking for a sentence of no more than five years, arguing through his attorneys that when he crossed the line it was an “isolated mistake.”

His sentencing hearing is at 1 p.m. Tuesday in federal court in Fort Myers.

Williams, 52, pleaded guilty to three counts involving bank fraud at Orion, with each count carrying a sentence of up to five years. He faces fines of at least $250,000 and he’s agreed to pay restitution to his victims. Charges in his original 13-count indictment carried a maximum sentence of 220 years in prison.

“Based on the fact he only pleaded to three of the 13 charges I see no reason for any additional leniency,” said Patrick Miller, Orion’s former senior vice president and one of the hundreds of shareholders in Orion’s holding company who lost millions when the bank failed in November 2009.

Williams admitted to orchestrating a complex scheme that involved illegally raising more capital for Orion and selling off bad loans to a borrower to make the failing bank appear in better financial shape than it was to its regulators.

Williams isn’t the only bank executive to find himself in trouble after doctoring financial documents and lying to state and federal regulators. Some of the more recent cases resulted in sentences ranging from a few months to more than six years in prison:

** In late 2011, a former Georgia banker was sentenced to six years in federal prison for a scheme that netted him kickbacks for fraudulent loans made to a Florida real estate developer. On top of his sentence, banker S. Pope Cleghorn Jr., the former president and CEO of Hometown Bank, had to pay more than $2.5 million in restitution to SunTrust, which acquired the bank after its collapse in 2008.

** Earlier this year, Mary S. Becker, a former vice president of Jersey State Bank in Illinois, was sent to prison for five years and three months for bank fraud and ordered to pay restitution after siphoning $4.45 million from the bank, putting it into her accounts.

** About a year ago, William Sandison, the former CEO of Community National Bank in Minnesota, got a four-month prison sentence and had to pay a $30,000 fine after he pleaded guilty to defrauding nearly two dozen other banks that invested millions of dollars in a failed town center project.

** A little more than two years ago, David Kennelly, a former executive with the Bank of Clark County in Washington, was sentenced to four months in prison after he hid appraisals on 17 properties that had fallen in value. Based on the appraisals, regulators would have required his bank to set aside nearly $17 million in reserves for loan losses.

** In late 2010, Jeffrey Thompson, former president of Hume Bank in Missouri, got a 6-and-1/2-year prison sentence after admitting he concealed problem loans from regulators and altered records. Loan losses caused the bank to fail in March 2008.

Peter Turecek, a senior managing director in the New York office of Kroll, a leading risk consulting company, said though plea deals can often result in lighter sentences for the accused, there are benefits to others. There doesn’t have to be a costly trial, saving taxpayer money, and it keeps the courts from getting clogged.

If Williams went to prison for life he wouldn’t be able to pay restitution, Turecek noted.

Bank fraud often doesn’t involve hardened criminals, he said.

“They are people who probably went into it with a high ideal and a desire to run a business and somewhere along the way something came up and when faced with an ethical decision or hard decision they made the wrong choices,” he said. “Then they tried to continue to cover it up, which led to more lies.”

Fred Gibson, deputy inspector general for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and a bank regulator, said his office has 210 open investigations and about half of those cases involve allegations of criminal activity against bank officials.

Some think there hasn’t been enough prosecution of bankers.

“The general feeling of a lot of people is that with this current crisis there weren’t enough put in jail,” said Ken Thomas, a Miami-based economist and independent banking consultant. “There is a public sentiment out there that ‘How could we have this terrible crisis with so many losses and very few people going to jail?'”

In the case of financial fraud, a judge needs to look closely at the victims and consider how they’ve been hurt, he said.

“You’re not talking about a lost life or someone who has lost a leg, or who is injured for life or paralyzed,” Thomas said. “But financial disaster can also ruin lives. They cause relationships to break up, foreclosures, lost homes, lost businesses.”

Williams’ co-conspirators already are serving time in federal prison and will have to pay restitution to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which lost $844 million when Orion failed. Their sentences ranged from two years to 5-and-1/2-years.

Nicole Waid, the federal prosecutor in the Orion case, wrote in a memorandum to the judge that Williams “clearly had the most to gain financially” from the fraud. He owned 24 percent of Orion Bancorp’s stock and was the largest single shareholder.

In 2009, Williams reported a net worth of about $78 million, but if his bank had failed at that time and his stock had become worthless his net worth would have dropped to $65,000, according to the court filing.

Waid’s recommending the court not go easy on Williams.

In a motion for a lighter sentence, Williams’ attorneys paint him as a community leader, a family man, a philanthropist, a caring employer. Attached to the motion are letters from his wife, Heather, and other supporters.

“He offers neither excuses nor qualifications,” his attorneys wrote. “And yet the facts of this case compel one to recognize it for what it is: a critical aberration from an otherwise exemplary life and career.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Connecticut art gallery owner arrested on federal charges alleging fraud

April 4, 2012

PostCrescent.com on April 3, 2012 released the following:

By John Christoffersen, Associated Press

“BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTW) — An art dealer was arrested on fraud charges Tuesday, more than a year after his Madison gallery was raided by the FBI.

David Crespo, who has been accused previously of dishonest dealings in the art world, appeared in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport on mail and wire fraud charges. He was released on $50,000 bond.

Crespo owned Brandon Gallery, which was raided in November 2010 by FBI agents who seized several pieces of artwork. At the time Crespo denied that he was the target of a federal probe and said he was assisting a larger investigation into art fraud.

Crespo’s attorney and his wife declined to comment at Tuesday’s hearing.

Philip Coffaro, a Long Island art gallery owner who once did business with Crespo, said he was interviewed by FBI agents who showed him fraudulent certificates that Crespo had apparently used to overstate the value of signed Marc Chagall prints. Crespo would buy items from him for around $200 and mark them up as much as $10,000 for sale as far afield as Korea, Coffaro said.

“The certificates were disgusting,” Coffaro said.

Coffaro had a falling-out with Crespo in 2008 when he accused his former associate of selling off a piece of art that did not belong to him.

A lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York alleged that Coffaro loaned Crespo a Salvador Dali painting, “Folle Folle Folle Minerva.” Coffaro said Crespo later refused his demands to return it, giving it instead to another man to pay off a debt.

Coffaro spent $40,000 to reclaim the painting and sold it for about $220,000, but Crespo continued to claim ownership of the painting, according to a complaint.

A judge ruled in 2010 that Coffaro is the rightful owner. That ruling is under appeal.

“David is his own worst enemy,” said Coffaro, who owns Gallery 25 in Mineola, N.Y. “He took advantage of the system. He took advantage of people. He’s very smooth.”

The next court hearing for Crespo was scheduled for July 13.”

18 U.S.C. § 1341 – Mail Fraud

18 U.S.C. § 1343 – Wire Fraud

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.