“The judge walked out and said, ‘You know, the government’s going to disagree with me, I know that, but this is wrong and none of these people should be going to prison,’ ” defense attorney Mark Reichel said following sentencing, according to the Sacramento Bee
. “Our jaws just dropped. I was convinced they were all going to prison.”
Judge John A. Mendez sentenced five individuals to probation in a scam prosecutors said allowed them to obtain over $5 million in home loans
. All five were convicted in May on wire fraud charges.
Reichel represented Daniil Markevich, who was convicted along with his wife, Svetlana.
Federal probation officers recommended a 37-month sentence, but he faced up to 20 years in prison for his role in the scheme.
According to officials, the fraud involved the purchase of two homes that had been purchased with phony income statements. Both fell into disclosure.
Prosecutors alleged the defendants were compensated hundreds of thousands of dollars for their roles in the scheme, which they used to purchase, among other things, luxury vehicles.
Others facing prison time in the case were Markevich’s sister-in-law, Irina; brokers Alex and Anatoliy; and Irina Markevich’s mother, Marina Pukhkan.
“[The defendants] couldn’t believe it,” Reichel said. “They were still in shock. I think there was shock among everyone because the government kept arguing that the judge was wrong and that they needed to go to prison.”
And the decision is a bit of a head scratcher.
In a separate case two weeks ago, Judge Mendez sentenced three defendants in a similar $16 million fraud case to eight, 11, and 19 years, respectively, according to the Bee
Five defendants attending their sentencing expected at least a few years apiece for their respective parts in a mortgage fraud case; what they got instead shocked both them and their attorneys.