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White-Collar Crime

Longtime lawyer gets 10 years for his role in $1B Mutual Benefits investment scam

Posted Apr 1, 2014 1:45 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A longtime South Florida lawyer was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in federal prison for his role in a $1 billion insurance investment scam.

Anthony M. Livoti Jr. could have gotten as much as 80 years, and the prosecution in the Mutual Benefits Corp. case sought at least 30 years. But U.S. District Judge Robert Scola said he didn't want to give the 65-year-old an effective life sentence, since Livoti was not a mastermind of the pyramid scheme, the Miami Herald (sub. req.) reports.

Livoti—a respected 40-year practitioner who was active in pro bono matters and supported at the hearing by family, friends and colleagues—apologized extensively, admitted he had "lost his way" and asked Scola for a second chance before the judge pronounced sentence in the Miami case.

As trustee, Livoti disbursed funds to pay life insurance premiums for terminally ill individuals with short life expectancies whose policies had been purchased by investors. The plan was to make money by getting a payout when the insured individual died in excess of the discounted amount paid to acquire the rights to his or her policy. However, these so-called viatical life settlements did not perform as well as promised, and the defendants in the case were accused of making misrepresentations to investors and misusing their money.

A dozen defendants took pleas, and Livoti was the only one to go to trial, the newspaper reports. Although he was acquitted on most counts, he faced a hefty sentence for convictions on money laundering, conspiring to commit fraud and two other counts, in part because of the amount of money at issue.

During Tuesday's sentencing hearing, former Broward Circuit Judge Robert Zack spoke of Livoti's "impeccable” credentials and urged leniency. “His good deeds far outweigh this mistake,’’ Zack told Scola, “though I do admit it was a grievous mistake.”

See also:

ABAJournal.com: "Acquitted on most counts, attorney nonetheless faces hefty sentence in $1B insurance fraud scheme"

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