Alberto Vilar conviction upheld by appeals court
NEW YORK — A federal appeals court upheld financier Alberto Vilar’s conviction, but ordered his sentence reconsidered.
Vilar’s attorney, Vivian Shevitz, said the ruling could see Vilar’s sentence reduced.
Federal prosecutors, however, want a federal judge to revoke Vilar’s bail and send him back to prison.
“The government’s request to revoke bail is a mean-spirited, ill-considered tactic to put additional pressure on us,” Shevitz said.
Vilar had appealed his 2008 conviction on 12 counts of securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. He was sentenced to nine years in prison. He had served four years before he was released on a $10 million personal recognizance bond, 4 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon earlier this year. He said he clearly remembers the time.
“What you come to appreciate is the most important thing in your life, which is your freedom,” Vilar said.
His partner, Gary Tanaka, was sentenced to five years and has served two and a half. They were originally ordered to pay almost $35 million in restitution including interest, and to forfeit more than $54 million.
But in its ruling upholding their convictions, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said restitution and forfeiture would be recalculated.
Vilar, the financier and philanthropist for whom Beaver Creek’s Vilar Performing Arts Center is named, had been held at the federal prison at Fort Dix, New Jersey, the largest prison in the U.S.
Vilar was pulled into the justice system in May 2005 with his arrest at the Newark, N.J., airport.
Prosecutors say Vilar bilked up to $40 million from investors. He used at least part of the money for his philanthropic work, court records say.
“Taking the losses of Lily Cates ($9.8 million) and the Mayer family ($11.1 million) alone, they constitute a loss of $20.9 million,” said Preet Bharara, United States attorney.
Those “losses” did not happen, Shevitz said.
Shevitz argued that the government froze more than $50 million in 2005 at J.P. Morgan Chase, and there is more than enough money to repay those victims but the government won’t release it.
She said evidence shows there was no scheme to cause investor losses or that even contemplated losses.
“There is no reason to conclude that ‘losses,’ under the government’s definition, will or should in fact drive the sentence, especially when the notion of ‘losses’ is belied by facts,” Shevitz said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.