A former high-tech executive convicted of defrauding investors of at least $30 million was handed one of the harshest sentences for white-collar crime on Monday. US District Judge Charles Breyer sentenced Samuel "Mouli" Cohen to 22 years in prison, and set a Thursday hearing to consider additional fines that could total $60 million.
In November, Cohen was convicted of 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering and three counts of tax evasion after a three-week trial. His lawyers plan to appeal.
Cohen’s fraudulent claim that Microsoft was poised to acquire his digital jukebox company Ecast caused the collapse the nonprofit charity Vanguard Public Foundation, which actor Danny Glover and singer Harry Belafonte founded in 1972.
Prosecutors argued that Cohen duped more than 50 people into investing more than $30 million in his company to hasten the acquisition, promising impressive returns as soon as Microsoft went through with the deal. When the transaction didn’t occur, Cohen claimed first US, and then EU regulators were delaying the deal.
Cohen allegedly used the funds to support an “obscene lifestyle” that included a Belvedere mansion with a rent of $50,000 a month, private jets, diamond rings, a Rolls Royce and an Aston Martin. He even helped his wife publish a cookbook titled "The Kosher Billionaire's Secret Recipe.” Cohen paid almost no taxes on this income.
“In more than 40 years of experience with the criminal justice system, I have never encountered a con man like Mr. Cohen,” Judge Breyer explained in his ruling. “He is serial in his proclivity to commit cons. He is nearly sociopathic in his inability to relate to his victims.”
Breyer called a fine and restitution hearing for Thursday. Prosecutors seek $29.7 million in restitution, a forfeiture of $31.4 million, and a $250,000 fine.