Former financier Martin Frankel, an international fugitive who was captured in Germany, was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison Friday for masterminding a scheme to loot insurance companies of more than $200 million to pay for a life of luxury.
Frankel asked for leniency in a rambling, 45 minute speech in which he quoted from the Bible and offered justification and apologies for his actions.
“Everybody looks at me as if I’m an evil genius,” the balding 50-year-old man said, waving his hands while wearing a denim blazer over his prison scrubs.
“I feel ashamed that I allowed this to happen.”
In 1999, Frankel triggered an international manhunt when he disappeared from his mansion in Greenwich. He was arrested in Germany four months later. He pleaded guilty to 24 federal charges of fraud and racketeering, and cooperated with authorities in prosecuting other defendants in the case.
Prosecutors said he was motivated by greed, sexual desire and a lust for the high life: a mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, fancy cars, diamonds the size of nickels, and several girlfriends.
“I hear remorse, yet I hear him blaming everybody but himself,” U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor said. “Whatever he feels today, he’s $200 million and 15 years too late.”
Defense lawyer Bill Koch asked for a sentence of about 10 years, saying Frankel was mentally ill. Frankel is diagnosed with a mental disorder and narcissistic tendencies.
“He has a view of himself in grandiose and exaggerated ways,” psychologist Madelon Baranoski said. “He believed he was a master trader. But he never traded.”
In reality, Frankel spent 13 years in college without obtaining a degree and was fired from one of the few jobs he held, according to testimony.
Frankel defrauded insurance companies in several states through a trust set up to hide his involvement, since he was barred from securities trading because of a similar scheme he committed years before in Ohio.
Each month, Frankel and his associates drew up phony statements showing company investments paying off. He hid his involvement, setting up a bogus Roman Catholic charity, the Saint Francis of Assisi Foundation, to own the insurance companies.
The scheme left a trail of victims, including policy holders, the insurance companies, their employees and the public because fraud drives up premiums, officials said. Authorities have recovered some of the money, in part by auctioning hundreds of diamonds Frankel obtained with the ill-gotten gains.
Frankel apologized for the scheme but said he began stealing to help his girlfriend’s children, who he said were being abused. When Judge Ellen B. Burns questioned why he needed $200 million to help the children, Frankel said things just got out of hand.
“I wish to God I never ever heard about money, thought about making money,” Frankel said, lamenting that he did not become a social worker.
Prosecutors said only a fraction of the stolen money went to Frankel’s girlfriend.
Frankel also boasted to the judge that he made $150,000 in 30 stock trades in six weeks.
“Do you know how much money I gave away,” Frankel said. “We had 10 Mercedes. I didn’t drive any. I’m the one who dedicated my life and threw away my life to save the kids.”
Frankel was one of 17 defendants in the case. All but one, who is a fugitive, have been convicted.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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