Right before his term ends, US President Donald Trump is issuing 70 commutations. Among them is the sentence of New York resident Sholam Weiss, a Jewish Businessman who has been sentenced to 835 years in Prison, (the longest White Collar sentence in U.S. History) after already serving close to 20 years in Prison.
🇺🇸✡️ — BREAKING: President Trump just commuted the sentence of Monsey, NY resident @SholamWeiss, a Jewish Businessman who was sentenced to 835 years in Prison, (the longest White Collar sentence in U.S. History) after spending nearly 20 years in Prison. pic.twitter.com/pbKJYTGzFM
— Belaaz (@TheBelaaz) January 20, 2021
A historic sentence
His sentence was the longest issued for a white collar criminal in US history. But the bizarre part of the story is that he never actually stole anything and even helped the company he allegedly stole from profit.
On February 15, 2000, the Middle District Court of Florida (Orlando) sentenced Weiss, to 845 years in prison. This was then reduced to 835 years – in prison for money laundering, racketeering, and wire fraud.
The sentence included $125,016,656 in restitution as well as a fine of $123,399,910, in connection with the fall of National Heritage Life Insurance Company (NHLC).
Biggest fall-guy in the history of white collar crime
That ruling set Weiss up as potentially the greatest fall-guy in the history of white collar crime. And although his offences might sound horrible based on the judgement alone, facts have surfaced casting significant doubt on the initial judgement and sentencing.
That’s because no person, or company actually lost money. Zero. Weiss’ claims – which has been substantiated – is that the restitution was satisfied with proceeds of mortgages that Weiss purchased for the benefit of NHLC at a 53% discount from their face value.
Those who received the restitution settled the mortgages and even collected the mortgages at their full face value. This led to a massive profit for the insurance company. Oddly enough, Sholam actually earned NHLC a lot of money. No one was defrauded due to his actions.
His co-workers who were accused along with Weiss perpetrated fraud in the company before Weiss’ even began working there. They all arrived at plea bargains in exchange for reduced sentences. Few of them served more than three years.
The only thing Weiss was guilty of was helping them cover up their initial crimes.
Three weeks following the sentence, the Court appointed receivers retrieved between 175-200 million dollars – a profit of between 50 and 100 million – thanks to Weiss’s investment in the mortgages. Despite this, it still took the government 16 years to file a satisfaction of restitution.
Someone clearly set up Weiss to be the fall-guy. Aware of his imminent doom, Weiss did what any rational person would. He fled the country prior to his verdict.
He was caught a several months later in Austria . Following a prolonged extradition battle, he was eventually brought back to US soil in 2002 to serve out his 840 years.
Insult to injury
Adding insult to injury, several months following his sentencing, US law changed making the maximum sentence that can now be applied to cases like Sholam Weiss’ only 36 months.
It is important to understand that at the time of his 2002 incarceration, all the money, including the profits, was already recovered. This wasn’t a tall order since it was tied in the investments Weiss had already earned for the company.
The Austrian Government finally agreed to extradite Weiss on the condition that he be re-sentenced and given the right of full appeal.
America reneged on the agreement . The Austrian Government even petitioned three consecutive US Presidents, including Bush, Obama and Trump to commute Weiss’ sentence to time served.
These requests fell on deaf ears. Weiss is serving his sentence at the medium security prison, FCI Otisville, in Otisville, New York.