Alberto Vilar ordered back to jail
EAGLE COUNTY — Financier Alberto Vilar’s bond was revoked and he went back to jail on Thursday, a move his attorney called “retaliation” by the judge.
“I believe this is a retaliatory revocation of bail by Judge (Richard) Sullivan,” said Vivian Shevitz, Vilar’s attorney. “We had deigned to challenge him, and made a motion for his recusal.”
Vilar, the financier, made a huge donation toward construction of the Vilar Performing Arts Center and was a longtime Vail regular and supporter of the arts. He and his partner Gary Tanaka had been free on $10 million bond since this past spring, and had been living with friends in Manhattan.
However, after weeks of legal maneuvering, Sullivan ruled earlier this week that the two 70-year old men were a “flight risk.” Sullivan revoked their bond and ordered them back to jail.
“Without having time to read and consider the reply we filed there, Judge Sullivan revoked bail on a basis that applies to any sentenced individual: That he wants to ‘flee.’” Shevitz said.
Appealing their convictions
Vilar is appealing 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 served four years before he was released on a $10 million personal recognizance bond this past spring.
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.
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.
Those “losses” did not happen, Shevitz said.
Prior to being free on bond, Vilar had been held at the federal prison at Fort Dix, New Jersey, the largest prison in the U.S. and the closest to Manhattan.
“What you come to appreciate is the most important thing in your life, which is your freedom,” Vilar said on Wednesday afternoon when he walked out the front door of a Manhattan courthouse.
Vilar was pulled into the justice system in May 2005 with his arrest at the Newark, N.J., airport.
Shevitz filed papers with the federal Court of Appeals to reconsider Vilar’s bail, and her request for Sullivan’s recusal. Federal prosecutors had to respond by Thursday afternoon.
In the meantime, Vilar and Tanaka remain in jail.
“These 70-year-olds, who have not had a fair hearing, should not be in jail while serious issues are pending,” Shevitz said.
Defense: Money was there
Shevitz has argued that Vilar’s company, Amerindo, was devastated when the feds shut down its U.S. operations without notice, 98 percent of its business, freezing more than $50 million. An Securities Exchange Commission monitor found that all the money was there, none was “missing,” and all was returned to investors, Shevitz said.
“The government should have known this before starting this case. We have been fighting to set the record straight and Judge Sullivan is not listening,” Shevitz said.
Shevitz has argued that the money has been sitting in JP Morgan accounts since 2005, and the bank has refused to credit interest.
Just this past week, JP Morgan Chase was fined a record $13 billion over a string of investigations into its risky mortgage deals.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vail daily.com.