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Con man receives 100 year sentenced for miami scheme to defraud

Posted on August 16, 2009 3:00 AM EST

Miami businessman, Edward Okun who was previously convicted of operating a scheme to defraud was sentenced to a 100 year prison term. Okun stole money from customers of his tax deferral firm and ran a 126 million scheme to defraud. U.S. District Judge Robert Payne handed down the sentence despite the prosecutor's request for a 400 hundred year sentence. In March, jurors convicted Okun of conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, smuggling and perjury. To defend cases of this magnitude in the Miami area, it is imperative to hire a

lawyer with significant experience in defending fraud and schemes to defraud in federal court.

Okun's defense lawyer argued at the sentencing hearing, that a 10 or 15 year prison sentence would suffice. Barry Pollack used examples of Bernie Madoff's 150 year sentence for running a 65 billion dollar Ponzi scheme and Mark Dreier's 20 year sentence for defrauding hedge funds to the tune of 400 million dollars. Pollack argued against the 400 year sentence and stated, "If we were just interested in retribution, we could take Mr. Okun outside and tar and feather him."

The prosecutor argued that Okun's fraud was worse than others in that investors trusted him and believed they were using a risk free service and not an investment service. Okun operated a tax-deferral business whereby he was supposed to hold real estate sale proceeds on behalf of his clients so they could defer paying taxes until they purchased similar properties within180 days. Instead of the holding the money for his clients, he used the money to pay for his divorce and to buy his new wife extravagant items, such as jewelry. Okun also used his client's money to purchase a yacht, million dollar homes, several cars, an airplane and a helicopter.

Several victims of the scheme to defraud spoke at the sentencing. Each victim explained to the court how they have suffered as a result of the fraud. One victim claimed to suffer from a stroke, while another claimed to have a heart attack. Most of the other victim's lost their life savings and felt serious financial repercussions from the losses such as home foreclosures and the accumulation of significant debt.

Laura Coleman, the former CEO of a company owned by Okun, pled guilty to lying to investigators and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. She was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. Robert Field, chief financial officer, and Richard Simring, chief legal officer, were involved in Okun's massive scheme to defraud. Both have pled guilty to similar charges as Okun and are awaiting sentencing.

Con Man Edward Okun Gets 100 years for Fraud Scheme, Bloomberg.com, August 4, 2009.
Categories: Fraud