Fort Lauderdale Attorney Sentenced to 10 Years for Role in $826 Million Ponzi Scheme
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Prominent Fort Lauderdale attorney Anthony Livoti, well-known for representing police officers in legal matters was sentenced on Tuesday to 10 years in federal prison. Livoti had been convicted of falsifying document in an $826 million scam by Mutual Benefits Corp. Earlier, Livoti, who was the trustee of the company, rejected a plea deal and was the only official among 13 to stand for trial. He was convicted last December on four counts including conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.
Even though Livoti could have been sentenced for up to 80 years in prison, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola found his role in the scam was not as serious as that of the mastermind Joel Steinger, who had pleaded guilty on Friday. Eleven others including Steinger's brother have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to various terms ranging from one to twenty years in prison.
Judge Scola commented, "It's clear to me that Joel Steinger was at the top of this pyramid."
While sentencing Livoti, the court took into account his long career in law including his extensive pro bono legal work, charity services in the gay community and mentoring of young lawyers to decide leniency.
Even though Livoti argued for less time, the judge reminded him that he could have been sent to prison for the full length of 80 years allowed by the statute, and in comparison, a term of 10 years was quite lenient. Scola commented, "I don't think the people who lost money are going to be celebrating this sentence."
Even though Livoti has been blamed for the entire loss, the defense pointed out that he had made only about $800,000 in 10 years work at Mutual Benefits, which is a pittance compared to the millions made by the true masterminds in the $826 million scam. His defense argued that Livoti did not "share in that pie."