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August 4, 2009

Smokin' Okun: tax scheme scammer gets 100 years in the federal slammer

The feds can now add another triple-digit notch to its white-collar sentencing belt after today's sentencing of the Miami businessman Edward Okun.  This Bloomberg report provides the basics:

Edward Okun, the Miami businessman convicted of stealing from customers of his tax-deferral firm, 1031 Tax Group LLC, was sentenced to 100 years in prison for running a $126 million fraud scheme.

U.S. District Judge Robert Payne handed down the sentence today in Richmond, Virginia, where Okun’s company was based. Prosecutors sought a sentence of 400 years, or a similar term amounting to life in prison. Jurors in March found Okun, 58, guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, smuggling and perjury following a three-week trial. “The sentence must deter those who have access to funds of others,” Payne said.  “If you ruin lives of others, your life stands to be ruined.”

Okun argued that a term of 10 years to 15 years would suffice.  He cited Bernard Madoff’s 150-year sentence, the maximum possible, in June for running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme, and lawyer Marc Dreier’s 20-year sentence last month for defrauding hedge funds of more than $400 million. Prosecutors sought 145 years for Dreier.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Dry argued Okun’s fraud was worse than others, because his victims thought they were using a risk-free service, as opposed to investing.  The tax-deferral industry temporarily holds real-estate sale proceeds for a fee under section 1031 of the U.S. tax code, allowing customers to defer taxes when similar properties are bought within 180 days.

As this Bloomberg report of the sentencing highlights, this proceeding appears to confirm again the accuracy of my Madoff sentencing reaction-prediction here that "though the choice of the magic sentencing number of 150 years — as opposed to 30 years or 50 years or 100 years — really means very little to Bernie Madoff, it could end up meaning a lot to the government and to some future defendants as a new white-collar sentencing benchmark."

Some recent related posts:

August 4, 2009 at 04:46 PM | Permalink


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What would armed robbery of a bank or armored car carry in terms of years if the robber was not a convicted felon? Would it make much difference if the robber robbed over a million?

Posted by: George | Aug 4, 2009 7:59:37 PM

Wait for it, wait for it . . .

Posted by: anon | Aug 4, 2009 11:30:15 PM

Criminal cult . . . indoctrination . . . 123D . . . criminal loving . . . rent seeking . . . 123D-o-meter. . .

Posted by: Redundancy Clause | Aug 5, 2009 8:52:58 AM

BAM!!!!! You don't disappoint!

Posted by: anon | Aug 5, 2009 2:41:23 PM

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