Stockbroker Sentenced in Million Dollar Swindle
NEW YORK (AP) Nov. 28, 2005 -- A spendthrift stockbroker and confessed thief was sentenced Monday to four to 12 years in prison and ordered to repay almost $6 million that he stole from securities firms and investors who included NBA star Latrell Sprewell.
Calvin Darden, 30, who spent the money on a $2.85 million home on Long Island, complete with a 20-foot-long aquarium and movie theater, apologized for his crimes as his father, Calvin Darden Sr., a United Parcel Service vice president, watched.
"I would like the people I hurt in this case to know how truly sorry I am," Darden told the court. "I pray and ask God to forgive me."
Darden pleaded guilty on Aug. 3 to five counts that included first- and second-degree grand larceny and scheme to defraud. His plea deal requires restitution of $5.77 million plus a 5 percent administration surcharge for a total $6.061 million. He is also barred from ever working in the securities field again. As she pronounced the sentence, State Supreme Court Justice Renee White said she believed that Darden's parents taught him to respect others.
"You tossed away the values they instilled in you," the judge said. "You tossed it all aside for greed. Personal consumption trumped ethics in your case."
Assistant District Attorney Elson Ho said Darden defrauded 11 victims of some $7 million over four years. Darden used some of the money he stole from later victims to repay some earlier victims in a Ponzi-type scheme to keep the scam going, Ho said.
Darden stole $3 million from the eight individuals and more than $4 million from three former employers - Smith Barney, AIC Ltd. and Wachovia Securities, he said.
Ho said the defendant repaid $1 million, and apparently had spent the rest.
"With the exception of the $1 million that was delivered to this court as a condition of the plea agreement, we now know that the defendant has squandered virtually every dollar that he stole," Ho said.
Darden's employers lent him money because he promised to bring in business from a star-studded list that included basketball stars Shaquille O'Neal, musician Nelly, and actors Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson.
Sprewell gave Darden $300,000 to invest and was not repaid.
Nelly, whose real name is Cornell I. Haynes Jr., gave the defendant $950,000 to invest in real estate investment trusts (REITs) and lost his money, a list of victims shows. Nelly, meanwhile, sued Darden to get his money back.
Darden never delivered the big-name celebrities, but by duping his employers and the clients he had, he was able to spend like one.
Ho said that after Darden paid $570,000 down on a multimillion-dollar mansion in Glen Cove, Long Island, he spent another $1.5 million on furnishings that included a $200,000 aquarium, a $170,000 home theater, a $93,000 Steinway piano, a $17,000 harp, and $250,000 worth of artwork.
Darden also bought about $325,000 worth of jewelry, and he leased a Lamborghini and a Porsche for about a year at a cost of about $200,000, Ho said.
The prosecutor said that although Darden's personal assets were pledged to the court for restitution, he learned that the piano, the jewelry and other items were sold and the money used elsewhere.
Other assets were moved to Pennsylvania, Ho said, supposedly for safekeeping with relatives when they should have been sold for restitution purposes. He said he doubted that Darden planned to use these items toward restitution as promised.
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