A Miami man was sentenced to 17.5 years in federal prison for operating a Ponzi Scheme that bilked family and friends out of more than $3 million. The scheme operated by Lorn Leitman, 61, addressed in greater detail in an earlier Ponzitracker post, consisted of seniors and relatives who thought they were investing in loans for residential mortgages and military personnel. Instead, Leitman paid old investors with money from new investors, the hallmarks of a classic Ponzi scheme.
The sentence is notable in that not only is it higher than the typical sentence handed down for the corresponding loss, but also the disparity between the sentence and that recommended under the federal sentencing guidelines. Federal sentencing guidelines are not binding, but are usually followed. However, in handing down a sentence nearly 50% more severe, United States District Court Judge Donald Graham considered the offensiveness of Leitman's conduct, which included deceiving family and friends for nearly a decade. There is no parole in federal prison, so it is likely Leitman will serve the majority of his sentence.
Judge Graham also ordered Leitman to pay restitution to his victims for their losses. However, in light of Leitman's inability to even make bail after his arrest, such a possibility may appear unlikely.