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US demands convicted con man serve 30 years

US demands convicted con man serve 30 years

U.S. prosecutors are demanding that a naturalized citizen they call a "congenital liar and serial fraudster" serve 30 years in prison and pay a $60 million fine after a jury convicted him of defrauding actors Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte and others out of more than $35 million.
If U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer agrees to the sentence Monday, it would be one of the harshest penalties ever given out in a white collar case.
Samuel "Mouli" Cohen, 53, is a son of Russian immigrants who was raised in Jerusalem. He moved to the United States in 1987and became a United States citizen, though prosecutors allege he falsely told victims that the first President Bush personally granted him citizenship.
Assistant U.S. attorneys W. Douglas Sprague and Hallie Mitchell argue in court papers that the harsh 30-year sentence is warranted because of the financial and emotional toll the fraud had on the victims, the extent Cohen went to cover up his scam and his refusal to accept responsibility.
Most notably, Cohen's fraud caused the collapse of the Vanguard Public Foundation, a nonprofit launched in 1972 that awarded grants to a vast array of social causes. Many of Cohen's victims, including Glover and Belafonte, were associated with the foundation, which supported anti-war causes, environmental groups and other politically liberal issues.
A federal jury in November convicted Cohen of 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering and three counts of tax evasion. His lawyer said Cohen will appeal.
Cohen was convicted of falsely telling investors beginning in 2002 that a company he launched called Ecast that made electronic jukeboxes for bars was about to be acquired by Microsoft Corp. Prosecutors said Cohen kept the scheme going by soliciting more money from victims with complaints that U.S. and then European regulators were holding up the deal, which required additional investments to pay nonexistent fees and bonds needed to push the deal to approval.
Prosecutors say none of that was true. Instead, they said Cohen used the millions to fund an "absurd lifestyle" that included flying around the country in a rented private jet that he claimed to have owned, giving rides to singer Elton John and actress Jennifer Lopez, among others. Neither is included on the list of victims.
Cohen's attorney is asking for a sentence of less than nine years.
"A 30 year sentence is excessive for a 53-year old first-time offender, who has a long history of selfless acts and entrepreneurial innovation," Cohen's attorney Marcus S. Topel wrote in a court filing, pointing out that his client has donated at least $2 million to charity.


Updated : 2020-12-05 23:06 GMT+08:00