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Former Judge Calls on Congress to Question U.S. Attorney’s Brooklyn Office
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After being taken for millions of dollars by a fraudulent investor, is it reasonable to assume that the victims of a financial crime are due restitution? That’s what one former judge says, and he is claiming that the office of the U.S. Attorney is not doing its part to help victims of financial crime, and is even actively preventing it by sealing court documents. In an attempt to gain further insight into the lives of the victims of a mass swindling, a former U.S. judge turned victims’ rights advocate is calling on Congress to investigate the handling of a criminal case that was sealed for several years, and claims that the office is protecting convicted felons at the expense of victims.

WiselawNY reports that former U.S. Judge Paul G. Cassell delivered written testimony to the House Judiciary Committee that the Eastern District’s handling of Felix Sater’s guilty plea was supremely unfair to his victims. Sater pled guilty for his role in a 1998, $40 million stock fraud. Sater cooperated with prosecutors, and the court record of the case was sealed until this March, when they were ordered open.

  
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For his part in the stock crime, Sater was sentenced to five years of probation and a $25,000 fine, which, if used entirely for victim restitution, would be less than one percent of the money he allegedly scammed. Sater was given a light sentence despite his guilty plea on account of his cooperation with authorities investigating the matter.

Cassell described the Eastern District’s handling of the case and the judge’s decision to shroud Sater’s pleas in secrecy as “hindering the public and this Subcommittee from learning how crime victims were treated in this case.” By Federal law, victims of stock fraud are entitled to mandatory restitution and the right to participate in sentencing proceedings, neither of which occurred in Sater’s trial.

Long Island attorney Frederick M. Oberlander has also filed a lawsuit in 2010, saying that the secrecy granted to Sater by the courts aided him in committing a $500 million real estate fraud. The lawsuit alleges that Sater used the court-granted secrecy to hide his criminal past from investors.

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