News and Press Releases

PONZI SCHEME DEFENDANT RECEIVES 17½ YEAR SENTENCE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2011

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced that a federal judge sentenced attorney and C.P.A. Lorn Leitman, 61, of Miami, Florida, to 210 months’ incarceration for his role in a 10-year Ponzi scheme. In an unusual decision, the court departed upward from a sentencing guideline range of 121-151 months, commenting, “this case is exceptional.”

A federal grand jury charged the defendant with violating the mail fraud statute for defrauding elderly victims and retirees, among others, through the operation of a Ponzi scheme which sought investments in either phantom residential mortgages or a separate venture burdening U.S. military personnel with predatory and usurious loans. The defendant pled guilty to one count of mail fraud on April 6, 2011 and faced a maximum possible sentence of imprisonment for 20 years. Several victims appeared in court to address the impact of the fraud. As one victim explained, losses from the Ponzi scheme forced the end of his retirement and his return to work. He commented, “my dreams are dead.”

The court explained that the decision to sentence above the guidelines resulted from the defendant’s conduct preying upon his closest friends, fellow servicemen, the elderly and retirees, and noted that the defendant breached codes of conduct applicable to members of the Florida Bar and certified public accountants. In addition to the enhanced sentence, the court ordered the defendant to pay $3,308,435.03 in restitution to victims.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen Rochlin and H. Ron Davidson, who prosecuted the case.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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