Powerhouse Democratic fundraiser Hassan Nemazee was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his $292 million Ponzi scheme. Nemazee, who was Hillary Clinton's national finance chairman for her 2008 presidential campaign, John Kerry's NY finance chairman for his 2004 presidential campaign, and raised $500,000 for Barack Obama in 2008, said in court, "I'm guilty of these crimes. I'm also guilty of hypocrisy. I have spent countless hours trying to understand why and how I came to cross the line: pride, ego, arrogance, self image, self-importance. All were among the reasons I traveled down this destructive path."
The 60-year-old had pleaded guilty to defrauding Citibank, Bank of America and HSBC of the nearly $300 million with fake collateral. Nemazee, who used the money to fund risky and ultimately bum investments, used a loan he received from one bank to pay another. The feds said, "Part of the manner in which the defendant was able to dupe the banks into lending him substantial sums of money was to trade on his substantial reputation in political circles as a prodigious fundraiser."
The judge could have sentenced him to 19 1/2 years in prison, but the Daily News reports, "Manhattan Federal Judge Sidney Stein went even below the minimum recommended sentence of 15 ½ years because of the 'good attributes of Mr. Nemazee, which were substantial.'" While calling Nemazee's scheme "brazen" and "breathtaking" and his downfall a "Shakespearean tragedy," Stein referred to his political and charity work, "You've done a lot of good in your life. You've been extremely charitable, even before this fraud."
About his charitable giving: Two institutions, the Spence School and Asia Society, which benefited from his largesse, have refused to return donations from Nemazee to the government.