News and Press Releases

BELLEVUE MAN SENTENCED TO 7 YEARS IN PRISON FOR BANK AND WIRE FRAUD
Masqueraded as Microsoft millionaire to commit bank fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2005

MICHAEL ALAN CASSINI, also known as JEFFREY MICHAEL LEAVITT, 27, of Bellevue, Washington, was sentenced to seven years in prison, five years of supervised release and $3,476,326 in restitution in U.S. District Court in Seattle today for ten counts of Bank Fraud and one count of Wire Fraud. CASSINI obtained millions of dollars in loans and lines of credit from numerous banks by claiming to be a Microsoft millionaire. Through this scheme he defrauded banks of more than $4.3 million. In sentencing CASSINI, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman told him he committed a "tremendous fraud" that read "like the movie ‘Catch me if you can'."

CASSINI will forfeit his interest in a number of luxury items including: a Kirkland condominium; a 2004 Ferrari 360 Modena; 2003 Porsche 911 Turbo; 2005 Lotus Elise; a 2000 Beechcraft Bonanza A36; a 2003 Cobalt 293 boat; three IBM Computer Servers; numerous computers; luxury watches; art; and an interest in a Piaggio P180 Airplane. All of these items were purchased with proceeds from the bank fraud scheme.

CASSINI pleaded guilty July 28, 2005, and admitted in his plea agreement that between May 2003 and May 2005, he took out a series of ever larger loans and lines of credit from six different banks. By obtaining successively larger loans, CASSINI sometimes paid off older loans with the proceeds of newer loans, keeping his scheme going. Court records show that to convince the banks to loan him hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time, CASSINI claimed he was a former Microsoft employee who had left the company to form his own technology consulting firm. He applied for both personal and business loans using this story to back his claims of wealth. On each occasion, CASSINI provided the banks with false tax returns, false letters purportedly from Barclay's Bank, verifying $8 million in assets, and false brokerage statements purportedly from Credit Suisse First Boston that showed he owned approximately $5 million worth of securities. When applying for business loans, CASSINI claimed his company, Aventura Corporation, had contracts with well known business such as Nike, Adobe, L.L. Bean and Toyota. All of these representations were false.

In asking for a lengthy sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Norman Barbosa described how CASSINI used "proceeds of his crime spree to live a life of luxury that few members of society ever experience." In a two year period CASSINI traveled to Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Brazil, Egypt, Kenya, Korea, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Italy, and France. CASSINI stayed in some of the most expensive hotels in the world. CASSINNI even arranged for transportation of his Porsche 911 Turbo to Germany so that he could participate in a car race. CASSINI spent $10,000 to participate for one weekend in the Ferrari Challenge race circuit. "In September 2004, he used the proceeds of a new loan to purchase his own Ferrari race car, as well as a matching street version of the same vehicle (at a cost of approximately $316,000 for the pair)," Barbosa wrote.

Barbosa asked the court for a lengthy sentence saying it was the only way to protect the public. He called CASSINI "a professional con man, very likely to continue his crimes."

Judge Pechman noted today that CASSINI "played a charade of trying to be someone else: the playboy, the race car driver, the techie.... in fact he was not well educated." Judge Pechman told CASSINI "you are mentally ill and you need to do something about it."

The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG) and the FBI.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Norman M. Barbosa and Assistant United States Attorney Mark Parrent. Mr. Barbosa's position is funded by the Social Security Administration as a part of SSA's efforts to combat identity theft and Social Security fraud.

For additional information contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington, at (206)553-4110.

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