SAN FRANCISCO - A former executive who defrauded investors of at least $US30 million ($F53 million) has been sentenced to 22 years in prison after a judge denounced him for fleecing nearly 100 victims to finance an "obscene lifestyle".
US District Judge Charles Breyer said Samuel "Mouli" Cohen was "nearly sociopathic" for refusing to show remorse for actor Danny Glover and others who suffered after he told them his Ecast electronic jukebox company would be bought by Microsoft.
The fraud caused the collapse of the nonprofit charity Vanguard Public Foundation, which Glover and singer Harry Belafonte founded in 1972, prosecutors said.
"In more than 40 years of experience with the criminal justice system, I have never encountered a con man like Mr Cohen," Breyer told the defendant, who stood impassively in jailhouse garb as emotional victims watched from the courtroom gallery.
"He is serial in his proclivity to commit cons. He is nearly sociopathic in his ability to relate to his victims."
Prosecutors had sought a 30-year prison term, which would have exceeded the 24-year sentence of Jeff Skilling, the architect of Enron's collapse. Breyer disdainfully held up a cookbook written by Cohen's wife titled The Kosher Billionaire's Secret Recipe and called it a guidebook to the couple's "obscene lifestyle".
Cohen rented a $50,000-a-month mansion in the wealthy enclave of Belvedere just north of San Francisco, and decorated the house with copies of famous paintings by Picasso, Miro, Matisse and other noted artists.
Prosecutors said he solicited investments during parties at his house, which he told victims he owned, while showing them the artworks he claimed were originals.
A federal jury in November convicted Cohen of 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering and three counts of tax evasion after a three-week trial. Cohen plans to appeal.