A 61-year-old businessman received essentially a life sentence this week when a federal judge sent him to prison for 60 years. The insurance fraud case allegedly cost investors $485 million and affected as many as 1,000 people.

The government claimed that the businessman committed fraud by selling bonds to life settlement companies. Life settlement companies buy life insurance policies at less than face value, allowing the buyer to make money when the policy matures after the seller’s death. This defendant’s bonds guaranteed funding to purchase life insurance policies from their owners.

According to the government, the defendant sold these bonds based on falsified financial statements. He also allegedly lied by telling investors that he carried reinsurance coverage. Because the bonds were not sound and had no reinsurance coverage, the defendant’s investors lost $485 million.

News agencies are reporting that the federal sentencing hearing included emotional and tearful testimony from some of the victims. Although the businessman testified that he used most of his company’s revenue to support programs for neighborhood children, the judge imposed a heavy sentence to “send a message.”

Under these circumstances, it can be difficult for a defendant to secure a fair sentence. This demonstrates how important it is to be able to rely on experienced and aggressive criminal defense representation-even at the sentencing phase.

Source: Washington Post, “Former Costa Rican businessman convicted in $485M fraud scheme sentenced in Va. to 60 years,” Oct. 23, 2012 

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