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Former NYPD sergeant sentenced to 58 months in $4.7 million scheme

By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former New York City police sergeant who admitted duping investors in a $4.7 million real estate scheme was sentenced on Friday to nearly five years in prison, a federal prosecutor said.

When James Monahan met with people who were considering investing in the Panam Management Group, he repeatedly touted his prior service with the NYPD as proof of his trustworthiness, Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a news release.

Monahan, 44, of New York also cited his law enforcement background as "a reason to invest in the project" he claimed to be constructing in the Dominican Republic, the prosecutor said.

Monahan and his co-conspirator, attorney Edward Adams, told investors their money would be placed in an escrow account to which neither Monahan and Adams had access, the federal prosecutor said.

But soon after the $4.7 million in investor funds flowed into the escrow account from October 2008 through February 2009, Adams withdrew the money without disclosure to the investors, the U.S. attorney said.

"In an effort to hide the fact that the funds had been removed from the escrow account, in May 2009, Monahan mailed a forged letter on the stationery of a major bank to investors claiming that their money was safely deposited with that bank," Bharara said.

By June 2009, all of the funds had been taken from the account, nothing was returned to investors and almost no work had been performed on the purported real estate project, the prosecutor said.

Monahan pleaded guilty in May 2013 to one count each of wire fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.

On Friday, Judge John Koeltl sentenced Monahan to 58 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He also ordered Monahan to forfeit $4.7 million.

Adams pleaded guilty in July 2013 to attempt and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. His sentencing is set for Sept. 12.

Monahan's lawyer, Christopher Flood, declined to comment on the case.

Adams' attorney, Stewart Orden, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Sandra Maler)

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