Appeals Court Hears $126 Million Fraud Case

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A lawyer for a Miami businessman convicted of swindling hundreds of people out of about $126 million urged a federal appeals panel in Richmond to overturn the convictions and order a new trial.

Edward Hugh Okun’s attorney, Andrew Protogyrou (pro-toe-GEE’-roo) also argued Wednesday that Okun’s 100-year prison sentence was excessive. Federal prosecutors said the sentence was appropriate.

Okun was convicted in March 2009 on 23 counts, including fraud and money laundering. He claims on appeal that he was improperly denied a hearing to challenge the validity of a warrant authorizing the search of two businesses he owned in Richmond.

The 60-year-old Okun owned companies that held money from clients seeking to defer capital gains on property sales. Instead, he used the money to finance a lavish lifestyle.

Source: Larry O’Dell, Associated Press