One of three South Carolina men convicted of swindling more than $80 million from thousands of investors says a sentence of 30 years to life is far greater than in other fraud cases - including on Wall Street involving more than $1 billion, the man's attorney argued in court documents Monday.
"These Wall Streeters had no less culpability, indeed maybe more culpability, than Mr. Pough and the Three Hebrew Boys doing business on North Main Street in Columbia, South Carolina," federal public defender Parks Small wrote in a sentencing memo about his client, Tony Pough. "The North Main Street boys' fraud should not be treated differently than Wall Street boys' fraud."
Small was reacting to a U.S. Probation Office report saying the guidelines of a sentence between 30 years and life in prison should be used for Pough. He and two other men were convicted in November 2009 of nearly 60 charges each, including conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering.
The federal jury also ordered Pough, Joseph Brunson and Timothy McQueen to forfeit $82 million.
The men called themselves the "3 Hebrew Boys" after the biblical tale of three men who were thrown into an inferno after refusing to bow to a statue, but emerged unscathed because of their faith. Prosecutors say they preyed on debt-plagued investors to ensnare them in a Ponzi scheme. The men called their scheme a ministry, telling people their mailed-in investments would earn fantastic rewards that would pay off their debts.