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Mark Shapiro, Convicted in Cobalt Scam, Gets 85 Years

Mark Alan Shapiro, one of three men convicted of defrauding more than 250 people of $23 million in the so-called Cobalt real estate investment scam, was sentenced to 85 years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood imposed the maximum sentence on Shapiro, 50, in a hearing today in federal court in Manhattan.

Shapiro, Irving Stitsky, and William Foster were convicted in November of defrauding investors in a network of companies named Cobalt, which claimed to have interests in residential real estate developments throughout the U.S.

In July, Wood sentenced Stitsky to 85 years, calling him an “inveterate con man.” Foster, who Wood said had a “much lesser role” in the crime than Shapiro and Stitsky, got three years in September. Foster and Stitsky have appealed.

The government alleged that the defendants fraudulently lured investors into the scheme by inventing a false history for Cobalt, failing to disclose that the company was owned and controlled by Stitsky and Shapiro, convicted felons, and misstating Cobalt’s property interests.

Stitsky, Shapiro and Foster were convicted by a jury after a three-week trial that ended last November. Each was found guilty of two counts of securities fraud, one of mail fraud, one of wire fraud and one of conspiracy.

In addition to the prison sentence, Wood ordered that Shapiro pay $22 million in restitution and forfeit $23 million in proceeds from the crime.

The case is U.S. v. Shapiro, 06-cr-357, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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