Lawyer gets 6 years in $46M RI scam against dying
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- A federal judge sentenced a Rhode Island lawyer to six years in prison Monday for his role in a $46 million investment fraud that preyed on terminally ill people, calling him the architect of the scheme and saying he didn't seem to recognize the harm he had caused.
Joseph Caramadre was sentenced in Providence after pleading guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy. His lawyers asked for two years in prison and two years in home confinement. Prosecutors sought 10 years.
Judge William E. Smith also ordered Caramadre to perform 3,000 hours of community service to help the elderly and terminally ill. He put off the question of restitution because Caramadre's lawyer has objected to the amount.
Caramadre was a prominent lawyer and philanthropist. Prosecutors say he and former employee Raymour Radhakrishnan paid terminally ill people cash, passing it off as charity, then used their personal information to purchase bonds and annuities that would pay out when the person died.
Caramadre pleaded guilty last year but a few months later tried to withdraw his guilty plea. He testified during a hearing on that request that he had committed perjury when he pleaded guilty, prompting the judge to say at the time: "It's amazing to watch a defendant perjure himself by saying he committed perjury the first time." Smith turned down his request to withdraw his plea in May and ordered him immediately into custody.
On Monday, Caramadre stuck with his contention that the plea was a lie, telling the judge he could not say he was sorry for anything although he felt terrible if some terminally ill people felt the investment strategy was not explained to them.
"I wish I could play the game," he said, referring to his lack of contrition.
Still, he said, he took responsibility for his guilty plea.
Smith said Caramadre seemed to recognize that people were hurt but didn't seem to recognize that he was the one that hurt them.
"You were the one who was the architect of the scheme and ultimately you are the one who's responsible for the hurt and distress that's been imposed upon those individuals."
Among the prominent people who invested with Caramadre were Terry McAuliffe, now the governor-elect of Virginia. U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, of Rhode Island, has said he loaned money to a relative to invest with Caramadre and later received some of the proceeds. There is no evidence they knew anything illegal was going on. They both later donated the money to charity.
Radhakrishnan was also sentenced Monday to a year and a day in prison after pleading guilty to the same charges. Prosecutors had revised their sentencing recommendation to five years. Radhakrishnan's lawyer, Olin Thompson, asked for just one day, plus community service.
Radhakrishnan apologized to everyone he had wronged, including the families and companies. He said it was satisfying to give money to people and acknowledged he made misrepresentations to people.
"My compassion led me to my shortfall," Radhakrishnan told the judge. "I did cut corners."
Smith repeatedly asked him what he was thinking and why he hadn't asked someone outside the firm whether what he was doing was legal. He had joined the firm fresh out of college and he and his lawyer said he trusted those around him who said what they were doing was legal.
"You're smart. You're naive in a lot of ways, but you're smart. I'm trying to figure out why that bell didn't go off for you," the judge said.
Radhakrishnan also was sentenced to six months of home confinement following his prison term, as well as 3,000 hours community service. He was ordered to report to federal custody on Jan. 13.