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Florida man gets 11 years in NY investment fraud

Larry Neumeister, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- A mutual fund executive who promised investors early shares of Facebook and Groupon only to blow their money on pricey cars, a waterfront home and jewelry was sentenced to 11 years in prison Friday.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan also ordered John Mattera to forfeit $11.8 million, though his lawyer said last year that he barely had enough money to stay overnight at a hotel. An additional restitution amount will be set within a month.

"You've left a lot of wreckage in your past and you have to be punished for that," Sullivan told Mattera as he ignored a request for leniency, sentencing the 51-year-old Fort Lauderdale, Fla., man at the high end of federal sentencing guidelines. "These crimes were just so selfish, so callous toward the victims."

Mattera was arrested in November 2011 on charges that he duped more than 100 people who invested millions of dollars with his British Virgin Islands-based Praetorian Global Fund Limited. He pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy, securities fraud, money laundering and wire fraud.

One victim, Marisa Light Cain, looked at Mattera as she said at the sentencing hearing that he squandered her $100,000 life savings, spoiling the safety net she had established to fund college for her sons. More than a dozen other victims submitted letters to the judge.

Mattera had told investors in 2010 and 2011 that he and his mutual funds owned more than a million shares of Facebook Inc. and Groupon Inc., while the companies were privately traded. Prosecutors said he then spent nearly $4 million on personal items for himself and his family, including expensive jewelry, private jets, a boat and luxury cars.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene Ingoglia noted that Mattera had lived in a "palatial house on the water" in Fort Lauderdale.

"His lavish lifestyle makes it particularly gulling," Ingoglia said of Mattera's crimes. "It paints a picture of someone who is unrepentant."

Given a chance to speak, Mattera said he was sorry and promised to do "everything in my power" to make restitution.

Mattera has four previous convictions for similar crimes in Kentucky and Florida. He has been imprisoned since his guilty plea, a proceeding that was delayed by a day when he missed his flight from Florida. He also was found in contempt in a civil case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.