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July 18, 2012
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Alberto Vilar to remain in prison

NEW YORK - The financier and philanthropist for whom the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek is named will remain in prison, a judge ruled Tuesday

Alberto Vilar was denied bail by the same New York judge who sent him to prison for fraud. Manhattan Federal Judge Richard Sullivan said Vilar might be a flight risk and orderd that Vilar remain behind bars.

In February 2010, Sullivan sentenced Vilar to nine years in prison after he was convicted of bilking up to $40 million from investors. He used at least part of the money for his philanthropic work, court records say.

At his sentencing, Vilar begged Sullivan for leniency, saying he was too old and sick to die behind bars.

"At age 69, I have little to look forward to," Vilar told Sullivan when he was sentenced. "I am not in good health. I ask your honor to grant me time outside of prison during the few years left to me."

Sullivan praised Vilar for his "tremendous generosity" but chided him for taking advantage of clients in his once-flourishing Amerindo Investment Advisors.

"People need to be able to trust their financial advisers ... yet that trust was abused," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the nine-year sentence would be a warning to others.

"Nine years is a long time, particularly for man of 69 years," Sullivan said.

In a 45-page letter, Sullivan rejected Vilar's pleas for a sentence to nothing more than community service.

Vilar is expected to appeal Sullivan's decision.

Vilar was convicted in 2008 of all 12 criminal counts against him, including fraud and conspiracy. Gary Tanaka, Vilar's former Amerindo partner, was sentenced to five years.

If Vilar survives his prison sentence, he also faces three years of probation and a $25,000 fine. As part of his sentence, Sullivan ordered Vilar to pay $21.9 million in restitution.

Prosecutors said Vilar's and Tanaka's victims lost $40 million, and argued that federal sentencing guidelines require at least 22 years in prison for Vilar and 17 for Tanaka.

Their lawyers claimed the loss was zero, and that the government had frozen enough assets to repay their victims.

However, one victim, Herbert Mayer, a retired heart surgeon, told the judge the Vilar and Tanaka stole $11 million from him and his two daughters.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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The VailDaily Updated Jul 18, 2012 11:16AM Published Jul 18, 2012 11:12AM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.