'Bunch of saps' do not expect their money back


POSTED: Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Some of former Kauai resident James Lull's victims said losing their money — hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars — ruined their lives.

;[Preview]    Sentencing Delayed For Ponzi Scheme Suspect

Prosecutors say James Lull swindled investors out of nearly $30 million.



What made it worse, they said, was the mental anguish Lull put them through with his false promises and elaborate lies.

“;The stringing-along was true torture,”; said Jeanette Pheasant, who “;invested”; $650,000 with Lull.

William Britt and his wife gave Lull $500,000.

“;The mental stress, there's no price you can put on it,”; Britt said in court testimony.

Jon Anderton gave Lull $4 million, according to his bankruptcy claim, but does not expect to get any of it back. He said he understands the government has more important things to do than “;help a bunch of saps who made some stupid decisions.”;

Lull, 60, was supposed to be sentenced yesterday in federal court for wire fraud. Prosecutors said Lull bilked people in Hawaii and on the mainland out of more than $30 million in a Ponzi scheme.

But U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway postponed sentencing for a month to give the government time to explain to her why Lull deserves a break for accepting responsibility for his actions, and Lull's lawyer time to argue why he does not deserve a prison term higher than what federal sentencing guidelines recommend.

Lull was facing a prison sentence of between 121 and 151 months based on his lack of criminal history and his acceptance of responsibility.

Mollway said she is not so sure Lull has accepted responsibility, based on the statements of his victims and the bankruptcy trustee handling his case.

Trustee Ronald Kotoshirodo told Mollway he has had a difficult time locating all of Lull's assets and that Lull has not been cooperative. “;I have yet to sense any general remorse by Mr. Lull,”; he said.

The government says Lull used his position as Kauai branch manager of U.S. Financial Mortgage Corp. to access confidential financial information of clients to offer them supposed side deals and investment opportunities with guaranteed returns. He also sold fake interests in real estate.

Anderton said he believes Lull is hiding $7 million worth of collectible coins and $3 million worth of opals.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Clare Connors said she does not believe there are any hidden assets, but will ask Mollway to order Lull to pay back $26.5 million to his victims.

“;From our standpoint the money's gone,”; Connors said. “;Whether it's concealed or not, it's not his to give away.”;

According to Pheasant's bankruptcy claim, Lull paid her back $92,835. Britt did not get any money back, according to his claim.