dczoldan@naplesnews.com" /> Mobley gets 3½ years shaved off prison sentence » Marco Eagle

Mobley gets 3½ years shaved off prison sentence

For his help in the Stadium Naples public corruption cases, admitted swindler David Mobley got 3½ years shaved off his 17½-year federal prison sentence for bilking investors out of $120 million.

U.S. District Judge John Steele reduced Mobley's sentence to 14 years, far less than the 8½-year reduction Mobley was seeking.

"It's less than I think he should have gotten but about what I expected the court to do," said Michael Von Zamft, the Stadium Naples special prosecutor.

Von Zamft had informed the federal court that Mobley's help was instrumental in the investigation of the Stadium Naples cases, which saw the arrests of 10 people, including three former commissioners, a former county manager, three developers, their Stadium Naples attorney, the Stadium Naples idea man and Mobley. After six years, the cases culminated in nine of the 10 defendants pleading to reduced or related charges and the charges being dropped against one.

Mobley was to be the prosecution's key witness in the Stadium Naples trial, which was truncated suddenly in January when former Commissioner John Norris pleaded to racketeering conspiracy and unlawful compensation charges.

Mobley's court-appointed attorney, Daniel Castillo of Tampa, asked Steele not to punish Mobley because he didn't testify at trial, saying that Mobley was ready and willing to do so. Castillo was disappointed to learn Wednesday that Steele's May 7 order didn't reduce Mobley's sentence further.

"I think he should have gotten more for his cooperation. I am disappointed and I am sure he will be disappointed," Castillo said, referring to Mobley.

Mobley, who has already served 2½ years, had already filed an appeal to the 17½-year sentence. But he was waiting to see whether any time would be shaved off for his Stadium Naples cooperation.

Castillo said he did not know Wednesday whether to move forward on the appeal until he talks with Mobley, who is being held in the Lee County Jail. Castillo said he knows some of Mobley's investors fought against his request for a reduced sentence.

"A lot of people are out for his blood and want to see him under the jail," Castillo said. "That's not what this country is founded on. Justice is a scales of a balance of other good works. That's why justice is blind...."

One investor who is not blind to Mobley's deeds is Naples resident Peg Reale. She said her family's life has been changed by Mobley's actions and she does not think Mobley's sentence is long enough.

"I wrote a letter to Steele a couple of months ago and laid out the reasons why I thought it should not be reduced at all," Reale said Wednesday.

Reale said Mobley, who passed himself off as a sophisticated hedge fund manager in the 1990s and early 2000, was convincing.

"He's really good at what he does. My husband knew him and he was very, very, very believable. We are well-educated people and thought long and hard before we invested in this."

Reale said the job of the courts is to protect the public from people like Mobley.

While Mobley was pretending to be a shrewd money manager, he actually was funneling investors' money into his own lavish lifestyle and failed businesses, including the failed Stadium Naples golf arena at the center of the public corruption case.

In February 2000, after Barron's financial weekly published a front-page expose raising doubts about Mobley's investment claims, Mobley confessed to a $124 million Maricopa Investments scheme to federal regulators with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Some 360 investors across the nation lost millions of dollars. Authorities took emergency action to halt the fraud and seize Maricopa's and Mobley's assets.

In October 2000, federal prosecutors charged Mobley with 20 counts of fraud and money laundering. In July 2001, Mobley pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. Three months later, Steele sentenced him to 17½ years in federal prison and he began serving his sentence immediately. But for much of the time, Mobley was held in the Collier County jail while he cooperated with state prosecutors in the separate Stadium Naples case.

Federal prosecutor Jeffery Michelland said Wednesday that Steel dealt Mobley an appropriate hand.

"That's what the government recommended," Michelland said.

Under guidelines, the U.S. Attorney's Office had recommended a two-level reduction but at the top of the guidelines, which changed Mobley's sentence from 210 months to 168 months.

Von Zamft said under prison rules and time for good behavior, Mobley can expect to serve until about 2013.

"He will be out in nine years," Von Zamft said.

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