Man who gave com­pany credit card to es­cort gets more than two years for $5.79M fraud

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY JON SEIDEL, FED­ERAL COURTS REPORTER jsei­del@sun­times.com | @Sei­delCon­tent

Scott Kennedy saw Crys­tal Lund­berg as “the last op­por­tu­nity to have the fam­ily he has al­ways wanted,” his lawyer said.

The two met af­ter Kennedy’s costly 2012 di­vorce prompted him to binge on al­co­hol and pros­ti­tutes, court records show. He hired Lund­berg, an es­cort. But by the end of 2015, Lund­berg and her chil­dren had moved in with him in north­west sub­ur­ban Buf­falo Grove.

From there, Kennedy’s need for a fam­ily con­sumed him, his lawyer said. He wanted so badly to be a provider that he handed Lund­berg his cor­po­rate credit card and doc­tored records while they racked up $5.79 mil­lion in per­sonal charges on an ac­count be­long­ing to the drug de­vice com­pany Ne­mera. The sad saga that fol­lowed cost Kennedy his job and rep­u­ta­tion.

It also cost Kennedy his free­dom Thurs­day, when U.S. Dis­trict Judge Elaine Bucklo sen­tenced him to more than two years in prison for what she called an “in­ex­pli­ca­ble” crime.

“It’s hard to imag­ine what you re­ally got out of this,” Bucklo said. “In the end, of course, noth­ing.”

Be­fore learn­ing his sen­tence via video­con­fer­ence be­cause of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, Kennedy apol­o­gized at length for his crime and said, “I will con­tinue to be sorry for the rest of my life.”

“I am gen­uinely sur­prised I didn’t lose more friends over this,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy, 46, pleaded guilty to wire fraud early in 2018. The next year, he be­came the star wit­ness at Lund­berg’s trial. In open court — and in front of ex­as­per­ated jurors — Kennedy ex­plained how Lund­berg re­peat­edly took ad­van­tage of him amid soar­ing credit card bal­ances and Lund­berg’s seem­ingly de­cep­tive be­hav­ior. He said he loved her and hoped they would marry.

Lund­berg, 34, has been ac­cused in court records of us­ing the cor­po­rate card to spend $8,000 monthly on a per­sonal driver for her kids and $2,500 a month on a maid in San Diego, where she moved. She al­legedly paid for ther­apy and pre­scrip­tion drugs, spent $60,000 on two Rolex watches and paid for trips to Bali, France, Costa Rica, Hawaii, San­torini, Bora Bora and Fiji.

The jury even­tu­ally con­victed her on five counts of wire fraud, and Bucklo gave her more than four years be­hind bars last De­cem­ber. She has yet to report to prison, suc­cess­fully ask­ing for de­lays be­cause of the pan­demic.

Un­like Lund­berg, who went to trial, pros­e­cu­tors said Kennedy be­gan co­op­er­at­ing with au­thor­i­ties al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter the scheme was dis­cov­ered and pleaded guilty. As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Kathryn Mal­izia asked Bucklo to give Kennedy 42 months in prison. De­fense at­tor­ney Sami Azhari asked for 25 months — the sen­tence Bucklo ul­ti­mately handed down — while point­ing to the dif­fer­ences in be­hav­ior be­tween Kennedy and Lund­berg. While Kennedy was once hos­pi­tal­ized, he said, Lund­berg bought tick­ets to the NBA Fi­nals. While she at one point lived in an es­tate in San Diego, he said, Kennedy lived out of a mo­tel. And while Kennedy was wracked with guilt, he said, Lund­berg ig­nored his writ­ten pleas to stop spend­ing.

Near the end of Thurs­day’s hear­ing, the judge sug­gested Kennedy report to prison at the be­gin­ning of Oc­to­ber. Kennedy spoke up, ask­ing if he could report sooner. Push­ing coro­n­avirus con­cerns aside, the judge even­tu­ally agreed to let him report in early Septem­ber.

Though she was sen­tenced more than seven months ago, Lund­berg is not set to be­gin her sen­tence un­til the end of Septem­ber.

“I’m more con­cerned with just get­ting this over with,” Kennedy said. “I want to be able to move on with my life.”

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