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by Mike Caswell
A New York judge has imposed a sentence of three years of supervised release on Kenneth Wise, one of those charged alongside Vancouver-linked fraudster Ed Durante for an $11-million scheme. (All figures are in U.S. dollars.) Prosecutors claimed that Mr. Wise, 77, provided bank and brokerage accounts for Mr. Durante to use in the six-year fraud. In addition to the supervised release, Mr. Wise must pay a criminal forfeiture penalty in an amount that the judge still must determine.
The sentence comes as part of the case that prosecutors are pursuing for the pump-and-dump of VGTel Inc., an OTC Markets listing. According to the government, Mr. Durante and others defrauded scores of investors, many of them seniors or widows. Mr. Durante told them that the stock could go to $50 while he pitched them shares that were ultimately worthless. Some victims even sold conservative investments to buy VGTel, the government said.
Mr. Wise pleaded guilty relatively early in the case, on Jan. 6, 2016, and received a favourable sentencing recommendation from prosecutors. They said that he was a lesser participant in the fraud, describing him as a "highly malleable" aid to Mr. Durante. He simply did whatever Mr. Durante asked, without question, the government said. After pleading guilty, he fully co-operated with prosecutors.
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