>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:
CAMDEN: As noted in an update on June 25, Adam Lacerda (aka Robert Klein) has been sentenced to 324 months (27 years!) in Federal Prison for his part in the VO Group fraud. In addition to the prison term, Judge Hillman sentenced him to three years of supervised release.
He was convicted in September 2013 of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, nine counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud following a seven-week trial before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman in Camden federal court.
27 years is a whopper of a sentence and frankly it surprised me. Still, we have to remember that the possible sentence for all thirteen counts on which he was convicted could have approached some 260 years or so, by which standard the 27 years doesn’t seem like so much.
If you have the time, you might want to toss some popcorn in the microwave and settle down with the beverage of your choice while you read this PDF document containing Judge Hillman’s opinion on why Adam and Ashley’s bail was revoked in August 2013 during their trial (hint: it had to do with serial witness tampering and being a flight risk). It’s an eye-opener for sure, and a reminder of the seriousness of their crimes. Here’s just one brief bit for you:
In order to understand the scope and intent of the witness tampering recently uncovered and described throughout this Opinion, it is important to note that many of the very real victims of this scheme are elderly, in dire financial straits, geographically remote from the Defendants, or were particularly susceptible to telemarking frauds. For example, Ricky Baker, a victim in one of the related matters pending sentencing and who testified in the ongoing trial, was a recent veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom facing surgery and severe financial pressures when he was defrauded by an employee of the VO Group.
The evidence introduced by the United States likewise reveals that, while at the helm of the company, Adam Lacerda repeatedly used an alias to mask his true identity, directed and condoned the practice of his employees using aliases to mask their identities, impersonated bank officials, utilized a spoofing device on his cellular phone that altered his phone number and the sound of his voice in an effort to disguise his identity and location and cause customers to believe that VO Group worked with banks and lending institutions, and used other sophisticated means to defraud innocent individuals of their money.
Note that the Lacerdas and Ian Resnick were not charged with witness tampering, an obstruction of justice charge, but they sure could be if the government wanted to go that route.
♦ ♦ If Judge Hillman publishes a similar opinion on his reasons for the 27-year sentence I’ll make sure you get to see that, too.
I expect Lacerda to appeal, and of course there’s always the possibility that his sentence might be reduced if he should win on appeal.
Ashley Lacerda’s sentencing date has been reset to August 7, 2015 at 9:30 AM in Camden – Courtroom 3A before Judge Noel L. Hillman. I imagine she can’t be feeling very sanguine about the possibilities at this stage.
Meanwhile, as of this writing Ian Resnick is still scheduled to be sentenced on June 30 BUT on June 24 his attorney filed a motion for a new trial (you can view the PDF at that link), citing a misuse of evidence before the grand jury and the discovery of new evidence that the prosecution withheld. Serious charges; as it turns out Resnick’s previous motion for a new trial was never addressed by the judge, hence the new motion. Judge Hillman has not yet either accepted or rejected the motion, much less set a date for a hearing on the motion, so I’d guess that maybe Resnick’s sentencing date might be pushed back?
I’d also guess that the Judge is unlikely to grant the motion, but I’ve been wrong before. At the very least it sets the groundwork for an appeal.
Note that it appears sentencing dates are beginning to be set for some of the other defendants, who previously pleaded guilty and have been waiting for a very long time to learn their fate. For instance, Joseph Saxon, who had been under house arrest at his parent’s home, had that arrangement revoked on June 24, was remanded to the custody of the US Marshall and is set to be sentenced on July 17. Saxon pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in June 2013.
I’ll be checking on the status of the others, too, as time goes by.
Once again, stay tuned. When I learn something new, so will you.
“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth
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