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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Con man gets 57 months for stealing $3.6M

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Albert J.K. Perkins IV

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A federal judge yesterday overrode a prosecutor's recommendation and added nearly a year to the prison sentence of Kāne'ohe con man Albert J.K. Perkins IV, who used his church membership to find and prey on victims.

Perkins, who stole $3.6 million from at least seven victims, was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge David Ezra.

Ezra said he could find no explanation for Perkins' crimes, other than "avarice and greed."

Perkins caused "immeasurable breach of trust and economic loss to absolutely innocent people who did nothing more than believe in him," Ezra said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Tong recommended a sentence of 46 months behind bars, saying that Perkins had taken responsibility for his crimes and cooperated with FBI agents.

But the judge said he probably would have sentenced Perkins to 10 years in prison if he had not cooperated, adding that he did not think 46 months was an adequate sentence.

Citing the "callousness" of the crimes, Ezra said a longer sentence was needed "to send a message to the community that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated."

Perkins portrayed himself as a financial adviser with special relationships with banks that could gain his customers interest rate returns of as much as 18 percent annually on certificates of deposit.

One family, which sold property to care for the nursing home costs of a grandfather, lost more than $2.5 million.

A member of that family, who asked not to be identified in court, said Perkins used his membership in the Mormon Church to portray himself as trustworthy.

"He cheated us out of our family's money and our ability to take care of my dad," she told Ezra. "He is simply a lying, cheating, everyday common criminal who deserves to be in jail."

Another victim, Herman Kanahele, said he knew Perkins from church and is related to Perkins' wife. He said he believed his money was protected by two "firewalls."

"One firewall was our faith we have the same religion and the other firewall was family I'm related to his wife," Kanahele said.

Kanahele said he lost $157,00 in one investment and $50,000 in another.

Perkins, who is married and has three young children, apologized for his actions and said he will spend his life after prison making up for what he did.

Ezra called it a "particularly sad case" involving "a young man in his mid-30s with a lovely wife and beautiful children ... who turns his talents to benefiting himself at the considerable expense of others."

Various relatives and supporters wrote letters to Ezra on behalf of Perkins, describing him as a devoted father and dedicated member of his community and church.

Tong said Perkins invested $2 million of the money he stole from his victims in what authorities now say was a "Ponzi scheme" fraud operated by a Florida resident.

That form of financial fraud pays early investors high rates of return with money obtained from later investors. When new investors can't be enticed into the scheme, it collapses and later investors lose their money.

Because Perkins was an early investor in the Florida Ponzi scheme, he made more than $500,000, according to authorities.

But Perkins did not return any of that money to his victims , spending it on himself. He bought two expensive Porsche automobiles which have now been forfeited to his victims, according to court files.

One was a yellow 1999 Carrera Cabriolet and the other a gold 2002 911 convertible.