monopoly_money.jpgA former Belvedere resident who founded an electronic entertainment company has been convicted in federal court in San Francisco of 29 criminal counts in connection with a $30 million investment fraud scheme, prosecutors announced on Thursday.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said Samuel “Mouli” Cohen, 53, was convicted by a jury in the court of U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer on Wednesday of 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering and three counts of tax evasion.

Cohen will be sentenced by Breyer on Feb. 2. The judge ordered him to be taken into custody while awaiting sentencing.

Cohen was a co-founder in 1999 of San Francisco-based Ecast Inc., which provides electronic music, games and entertainment to bars and nightclubs.

Haag said evidence at the trial showed that Cohen collected more than $30 million from investors, initially by falsely telling them that Ecast was about to be acquired by Microsoft Corp. and later by saying that additional funds were needed for fees to obtain approval from U.S. and European Union regulatory agencies.

Many of the investors were associated with the now-defunct Vanguard Public Foundation, Haag said.

Cohen took in the investors’ funds between 2002 and 2008, according to a grand jury indictment issued last year.

Haag said there was never actual or potential acquisition of Ecast by Microsoft and that Cohen spent millions of dollars on lavish personal expenses including private jets, luxury cars, and vacations in France, Italy and the Caribbean.

An affidavit filed in the case by U.S. Internal Revenue Service investigator Juan Saavedra last year said that Cohen met actor Danny Glover, a founder of Vanguard Public Foundation, in August 2002, and said he wanted to help Vanguard in its mission.

Glover then arranged for Cohen to meet Vanguard President Hari Dillon, the affidavit said.

Cohen allegedly told Dillon and other investors that they could make large profits from the supposed Microsoft acquisition, but told them the planned deal was highly confidential and no one should do research on it, according to the indictment.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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