‘Citizen of year’ jailed for bilk­ing in­vestors

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - CP/AP

LOS AN­GE­LES — A for­mer Cal­i­for­nia real es­tate devel­oper once hon­oured as his city's citizen of the year was sen­tenced Thurs­day to the max­i­mum 14 years in prison for bilk­ing in­vestors who poured mil­lions of dol­lars into failed de­vel­op­ment projects. Fed­eral Los An­ge­les Judge Otis Wright handed down a harsher sen­tence than the gov­ern­ment had re­quested for Kelly Gearhart, 53, who pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud and money laun­der­ing. Gearhart, who now lives in north­east­ern Ohio, apol­o­gized through tears Thurs­day to the mostly el­derly peo­ple he cheated. “I'm so sorry for all the heartache I caused,” Gearhart said with a qua­ver­ing voice. “I've lost ev­ery­thing I had. I've found ma­te­rial things have no value com­pared to the trust and friend­ship of those who be­lieved in me. I val­ued that the most and now it's gone.”

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