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Man paid debt for 1 crime while committing another

Plea deals are sometimes the only viable option a defendant has. Concessions promised by prosecutors are exchanged for guilty pleas. Benefits to the defendant include dropped or reduced charges or a lighter sentence.

A man accused of cheating a business partner used some of the funds to pay restitution in a Maryland fraud case. The 55-year-old defendant was accused of the white collar crime of wire fraud after the partner became suspicious about bank loans that never materialized for a planned water park.

In 2008, a Baltimore County court convicted the man of a hotel investment scam for which he received a seven-year suspended sentence. The most recent charge stems from a business relationship between the defendant and a doctor, who had bad luck with an investment near Williamsburg, Virginia.

One of the doctor's original partners died, while the other decided to abandon the project. The remaining investor met the defendant in 2009 and by the following year, the pair had worked out elaborate plans for a water park. More than $40 million in financing was promised by a Florida bank, or at least, that's the story the defendant told his partner when he showed him forged letters of commitment.

The doctor agreed to turn over $317,000 to help his partner secure the big loan, but the money was still missing seven months later. The doctor suspected he was being cheated and called the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The defendant spent $45,000 to satisfy a restitution order from a Maryland court and after his March 2014 arrest, allegedly attempted to fund his defense by perpetrating more scams by phone while in prison.

If a judge agrees with the prosecutor's recommendations during sentencing, the defendant will be convicted of a single count of wire fraud, not the seven counts the state originally sought. Plea agreements, when properly negotiated, can help defendants avoid the most severe penalties.

Source: The Virginian-Pilot, "Man pleads guilty to conning business partner to pay restitution in another case," Scott Daugherty, July 18, 2015

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