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Prosecutors seeking life sentence in mortgage fraud case

Citing the 150 year sentence given to Bernie Madoff, despite Madoff's guilty plea, federal prosecutors are seeking a maximum sentence for former Taylor, Bean & Whitaker majority owner Lee B. Farkas. He was convicted on multiple counts of fraud in April and could be sentenced to as many as 385 years in prison. His sentence will likely be one of the longest ever laid down in a white collar criminal case.

Prosecutors may be seeking a life sentence for several reasons. For one, the fraud perpetrated by Mr. Farkas and Taylor Bean cost Colonial Bank, Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas nearly $2.5 billion in losses. Also, Taylor Bean and Colonial attempted to obtain $500 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds from the government. Furthermore, the fraud scheme cost more than 2000 employees their jobs. Finally, Lee Farkas refused to plead guilty despite overwhelming evidence, including the testimony of many other officers of Taylor Bean who have also been charged in connection with the scheme.

Prosecutors discussed the lifestyle and general demeanor of Mr. Farkas at length during the trial. They outlined a lavish lifestyle of private jets, classic cars and real estate holdings. They claim he lied on the witness stand and continues to refuse to take responsibility for the outcome of his actions. Fellow employees described a tyrannical approach to business where many felt coerced or even physically threatened into obeying the edicts laid down by Mr. Farkas. Added together, the picture painted by prosecutors is not likely to leave much room for sympathy when the final sentence is handed down.

The fraudulent actions of Taylor Bean, led by Lee Farkas, stretched for more than seven years. If prosecutors get what they want, the consequences will last much, much longer.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Life sentence sought for mortgage fraud mastermind," Associated Press, 25 June 2011

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