A tax shelter promoter who lived "in the lap of luxury" admitted at his sentencing he masterminded multimillion-dollar fraud and racketeering schemes that resulted in his 27-year prison sentence.
"My arrogance did not allow me to fully examine the events through another's eyes," John Peter Galanis told the court Wednesday. "I thought of myself as a kind man, imparting good values, not a racketeer."Prosecutors alleged Galanis was behind schemes that defrauded investors, financial institutions and the public out of $150 million and resulted in the failures of banks in two states, including Utah.
Galanis masterminded a phony oil- and gas-drilling tax shelter scheme, known as Transpac Drilling Venture, that created more than $172 million in fraudulent tax writeoffs for about 2,500 investors, prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, the "Galanis organization" also bribed officials of Peoples National Bank of Rockland County and left the bank insolvent; fraudulently took over Columbia Federal Savings Bank in Westport, Conn.; forced Utah banking officials to take over Heritage Bank in Salt Lake City; and stole $3.9 million from three California mutual funds.
Eleven other people pleaded guilty for their roles in Galanis' various schemes, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Vincent Briccetti.
Chief U.S. District Judge Charles Brieant did not impose any fine on Galanis, 45, formerly of Greenwich, Conn., and now of Del Mar, Calif. Galanis faced up to 207 years in prison and $8 million in fines.
Galanis was convicted July 5 by a U.S. District Court jury for participating in a Greenwich-based racketeering enterprise that looted banks, fleeced investors and defrauded the government of taxes. He was convicted of 44 various counts.
U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani hailed the sentence.
"This sentence, which is, in my experience, the heaviest yet imposed for white collar crime, sends precisely the right message to wealthy and privileged crooks who cheat to make additional millions upon millions," he said.
Brian Barrett, Galanis' attorney, said he sought "as much mercy as possible" from the judge, citing the fact that Galanis appeared in court Wednesday, knowing he faced a lengthy prison term.
Galanis' co-defendant, Anthony Marchese, 48, of Southport, Conn., received 20 years in prison last week from Brieant.
Brieant said he saw no real mitigating factors, except that Galanis was a fine family man and was no threat "except to banks and investors."
Over the objections of prosecutors, he agreed to allow Galanis to remain free on $20 million bond pending the start of his sentence.
In a presentence report, the government said Galanis, convicted of conspiracy to violate securities laws 15 years ago, "directed a sophisticated criminal enterprise . . . whose activities defrauded investors, financial institutions and the public of the extraordinary sum of $150 million in a series of schemes over a period of years."
Galanis took most of the money "to support the extravagant lifestyle to which he had become accustomed during his decades of unrelenting criminal activities," it said.
The report said there were no "mitigating circumstances" for Galanis' crimes, since he was a "fabulously wealthy individual who lived at all times in the lap of luxury."
He learned no lesson from his previous conviction, the report said.