NEW YORK, N.Y. – A lawyer convicted of assisting a con man in a ruse to borrow millions of dollars for a failed bid to buy Maxim magazine was sentenced Thursday to six months in prison by a judge who flatly rejected government-calculated sentencing guidelines calling for him to serve 14 to 17 years.
“They are arbitrary, irrational and have no saving grace,” U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said of the guidelines as he told Harvey Newkirk there were plenty of admirable qualities about him that earned him leniency.
A jury in December acquitted Newkirk, 39, of conspiracy and identity theft but convicted him of wire fraud.
Still, the judge said the jury verdict against Newkirk was “amply deserved” for his role in helping Calvin Darden Jr. impersonate Darden’s prominent father, a former senior vice-president for operations at UPS Inc., to convince two lenders to provide about $8 million. Prosecutors said Newkirk and Darden also were seeking another $20 million in loans to buy Maxim before the scheme unraveled.
At trial, the defence had argued that Newkirk was duped by Darden.
The judge also ordered Newkirk to pay restitution of $3.1 million, the actual loss.
Prior to sentencing, Newkirk became choked up as he expressed regrets.
“I should not have been so trustful of Calvin Jr.,” he said. “I’ll be sure I’m never in this situation again.”
Newkirk was arrested last year after Darden used his father’s name to lure lenders into providing backing to buy Maxim, a men’s lifestyle magazine known for its photos of scantily clad female models, singers and actresses.
Calvin Darden Sr. is a board member at Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. and Target Corp.
Newkirk, who no longer is licensed to practice law, was reminded by the judge that he can reapply for the license in seven years.
At trial, Darden testified for the government that Newkirk helped him forge documents that falsely claimed his father would provide collateral. The deal never went through, and the magazine was sold to another buyer.