A ticket-broker said to be the mastermind behind a Ponzi scheme that stole $100 million from investors was sentenced to 78 months in prison in Manhattan federal court Tuesday.
Judge Kimba Woods handed down the six-and-a-half-year sentence to Joe Meli, one day after the U.S. Attorneys reported that Meli had violated the terms of his bail, staying out an hour past curfew to eat dinner at a Manhattan restaurant.
The news likely didn’t help Meli, who hired Kasowitz attorney Dan Fetterman to defend him and plea for a lighter, two-to-three year sentence that could be served partially on house arrest.
Instead, Meli received the sentence requested by the U.S. Attorney, who suggested Meli serve six-and-a-half to eight years after pleading guilty to wire fraud in an elaborate ponzi scheme that stole $100 million and was used to purchase a $3 million mansion in the Hamptons, a sports cars and repay old investors. Meli will also participate in a drug rehab program while in prison.
On the eve of Meli’s April 3 sentencing, officials with the U.S. Attorney’s office sent a letter to the court accusing Meli of violating his 8 pm to 7 am curfew, set as a condition of the his pre-trial sentencing.
According to the letter, authorities learned that Meli had been spotted at a Manhattan restaurant after 8 pm and FBI officials “later obtained surveillance footage showing an individual leaving the restaurant at approximately 8:54 p.m., i.e., almost an hour after Meli’s curfew,” the report said. “Restaurant staff confirmed that the individual depicted was Meli and that he had been in the restaurant the previous evening.”
The letter said Meli’s curfew violation “raises questions about Meli’s acceptance of responsibility and, moreover, underscores the need for the sentence imposed to provide specific deterrence and promote respect for the law.”
The letter also argued that Meli’s bail should be immediately revoked, but it’s unclear at this time if that has happened.