The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the 200-month sentence of con-man Sultan Issa resulting from a decade-long, $77 million fraud scheme against Gair Eberhard client Roger Weston.
Weston, a retired banker, hired Issa as the CFO of his personal office in 2007, and over the next ten years Issa stole tens of millions of dollars from Weston and mortgaged Weston properties for his own benefit. When the scheme was discovered, Weston hired Gair Eberhard to represent him in presenting the case to the U.S. Attorney. Two years of advocacy by the firm resulted in the indictment of Issa.
After Issa pled guilty to the fraud, Gair advanced a novel interpretation of the Victim Witness Protection Act and submitted a comprehensive sentencing memorandum detailing both the crimes and how Issa had spent the money on buying airplanes, yachts and twenty-six luxury real estate properties. Gair also presented evidence of additional fraudulent and obstructive conduct, and argued extensively on both guidelines issues and in aggravation at the sentencing hearing. Judge Andrea Wood sentenced Issa to 200-months’ imprisonment, believed to be the longest white-collar fraud sentence in the Northern District of Illinois.
Issa’s principal issue on appeal was the claim that Gair had improperly acted as a “shadow prosecutor” and should not have been allowed to present evidence and arguments at sentencing. The Seventh Circuit rejected the argument and upheld the sentence.