Thanks in part to licenses to practice law and mortgage brokering in California, Gerald Lawrence Wolfe once boasted that he and his wife enjoyed monthly income that topped $150,000.
Wolfe, 42, bragged so much about his financial acumen that he confidently presented himself as a "Wealth Coach" with a "dynamic" and "entertaining" personality that won him a weekly show on a Los Angeles FM radio station as well as homes in Orange County and Hawaii.
But it turns out that this Aliso Viejo lawyer was a glorified con artist who designed an elaborate, $25 million straw man residential mortgage scam that, according to the federal prosecutors based in Santa Ana, stole $8.8 million from 14 investors and left 27 Southern California properties in unnecessary distress.
Yesterday afternoon, Wolfe--who still won't admit guilt--hoped U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford would go easy on him with a punishment no more severe than probation. After all, his legal woes have "forced" him to now live in a North Dakota apartment, he argued. (That's the first I've heard that living in North Dakota equates to federal prison time.)
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I doubt Assistant United States Attorney Brett A. Sagel, who along with Joseph T. McNally prosecuted Wolfe, was amused by the convicted felon's stance. Knowing the economic devastation caused by the crimes, Sagel pushed for a nine-year prison sentence plus $7.6 million in victim restitution. A stiff punishment could be an important deterrence to future white collar criminals, he argued.
But Guilford split the baby. He handed Wolfe a 46-month prison term, restitution requirements and ordered him to undergo three years of supervised probation when he emerges back into society.
The judge also gave him until June 1 to surrender to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.