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Ex-Texas businessman resentenced to 60 years

Larry o'Dell, Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A federal judge who sentenced a former Texas businessman to 60 years in prison for a $100 million fraud scheme re-imposed the same term Thursday, agreeing with prosecutors that the reversal of five of his 15 convictions failed to minimize the egregious conduct that cost many of the scam's approximately 800 victims their life savings.

Adley Abdulwahab of Spring, Texas, was convicted in 2011 of conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering, and U.S. District Judge Robert Payne sentenced him to 60 years. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond reversed the five money laundering convictions in April and ordered a new sentencing hearing.

James Ardoin, an attorney for Abdulwahab, argued in court that a 15-year sentence would be more in line with the punishment imposed in comparable white-collar crimes nationwide.

"Anything north of 30 years is unreasonable," Ardoin said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Brumberg said the money laundering counts had little bearing on the original sentence, which she urged Payne to re-impose.

"This crime was heinous, and a 60-year sentence remains appropriate," she said.

Abdulwahab, 37, was one of the executives for a group of companies called A&O that used investor funds to buy life insurance policies at less than face value. Investors were supposed to be paid when the insured died, but A&O's partners spent their money on lavish lifestyles rather than safeguard the funds and pay premiums to keep the policies in force.

At the first sentencing hearing in 2011, Payne said Abdulwahab "has shown the capacity to lie, cheat and steal to make his life better with no regard for the impact on others." He said Thursday that everything he said before about Abdulwahab's actions still applied.

Abdulwahab was one of seven people convicted in the A&O conspiracy. Another principal in the company, Christian Allmendinger of Houston, was sentenced to 45 years for seven counts of fraud and money laundering.

In a related case, the president of a Costa Rican company that sold bonds purportedly backing the "life settlement" contracts sold by A&O was convicted on 10 counts and also sentenced to 60 years in prison.