Tuesday August 20, 2013

Man gets 7 years in film fraud scheme

RUTLAND (AP) -- A Connecticut man who admitted defrauding investors in a movie project out of $9 million was sentenced Monday to seven years in prison.

Louis Soteriou of Middlebury, Conn., was sentenced in Rutland by U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss after an emotional six-hour hearing.

Among those who testified at the sentencing hearing was Malcolm "Mac" Parker, who was also charged in the scheme. He told the court Soteriou used a "mixture of inspiration and fear" to manipulate him as they worked on their movie, "Birth of Innocence."

The fraud, a Ponzi-like scheme, resulted in losses for hundreds of investors, mostly from Vermont.

Soteriou had pleaded guilty in April to charges of money laundering and conspiracy. He apologized to the investors saying he was "truly sorry," The Burlington Free Press (http://bfpne.ws/19EJUn2) reported.

He was ordered to report to prison at an unspecified date. He had no comment as he left the courtroom.

Parker also pleaded guilty in the case. He is due to be sentenced Wednesday.

Prosecutors say Parker raised the money for the film in part by promising double-digit interest on the investments, a scheme that involved using money to pay off debts to earlier investors.

Reiss will be asked to divvy up responsibility for the $9 million in restitution that Parker and Soteriou owe the investors.

Vt. has third month of rising unemployment rate

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont’s unemployment rate climbed to 4.6 percent in July, the third consecutive month the state reported an increase, the state Department of Labor announced Monday.

The July seasonally adjusted rate climbed two-tenths of a percentage point from June, after climbing three-tenths of a percentage point from May to June. Vermont’s unemployment rate in July 2012 was 5.2 percent.

The comparative national rate in July was 7.4 percent, down from 7.6 percent in June.

The state’s recovery from the Great Recession has been uneven and the state continues to cope with occasional large layoffs, said Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan.

"While Vermont still holds one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, and the number of (unemployment insurance) claimants continues to decline and employers continue to hire, we also have faced challenges such as the IBM layoffs," Noonan said. "A key positive factor in Vermont is that we are a small state and programs that we offer can have a big impact on improving the lives of individual Vermonters through job placements, training programs, internships, career exploration, and other career planning and placement services."

More than 400 workers were laid off at IBM earlier this summer.

In 2012 there was a similar increase in the unemployment rate in June and July. The department said the 2012 increases were temporary.

Unemployment rates in Vermont’s 17 labor markets ranged from a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 3 percent in Hartford to 5.7 percent in Newport.