ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Federal prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for the man convicted of orchestrating a $3 billion fraud while running what had been one of the nation’s largest private mortgage companies.
Defense lawyers, meanwhile, on Friday asked for a term of no more than 15 years for Lee B. Farkas, 58, of Ocala, Fla., the former majority owner of Florida-based Taylor Bean & Whitaker.
Taylor Bean collapsed in 2009 when the fraud scheme unraveled, putting its 2,000 employees out of work. The fraud also contributed to the failure of Alabama-based Colonial bank, which had been one of the country’s 25 largest banks.
Farkas faces up to 385 years after he was convicted in April on multiple fraud counts for masterminding what prosecutors say was one of the biggest bank frauds in U.S. history.
In court papers filed Thursday, prosecutors argued that Farkas should receive the maximum and compared his conduct to Bernie Madoff and other mass swindlers.
A maximum sentence “will send the most forceful and unequivocal message to senior corporate executives that engaging in fraud and deceit in order to pump up your company or line your own pockets is unacceptable and will have severe consequences,” prosecutors wrote, saying that Farkas should receive at least a 50-year sentence.
The sentencing memorandum notes that Madoff, in a $13 billion Ponzi scheme, received a 150-year sentence even though he accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty. Farkas, on the other hand, went to trial and was convicted by a jury, and prosecutors believe he lied on the witness stand and continues to deflect responsibility.