A former rap concert promoter was sentenced in federal court in San Francisco today to three years and 10 months in prison for defrauding investors of an amount estimated by prosecutors at $2 million.
Maurice Michael McCant, 50, of San Francisco, was given the sentence by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston.
He pleaded guilty before Illston in March to four counts of wire fraud lodged against him in a 2011 indictment.
McCant was formerly president of a group called Billionaire Catt Entertainment.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said McCant admitted in his guilty plea that he told investors their money would be used to promote rap concerts and that they would receive a portion of profits, but that he in fact used the money to pay personal expenses, mortgages and other investors.
The indictment alleged that he carried out the scheme between 2007 and 2009, promised investors a 30 percent return, and spent virtually none of the money on concert promotion.
In a sentencing brief filed last week, prosecutors said McCant “fleeced at least 10 victims out of at least $2.5 million” but returned more than $400,000 to some early investors, thus causing a total loss of more than $2 million.
Illston ordered McCant to pay restitution to the victims. The exact amount of restitution will be determined either at a Sept. 14 hearing before Illston or through an agreement between the prosecution and defense.
McCant chose not to make a statement at the hearing.
In the plea bargain, the prosecution and defense agreed on a proposed prison term of three years, but the court’s probation office recommended a heavier sentence, and Illston imposed a term of three years and 10 months.
When asked by Illston about efforts to recover money for the victims, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Harris said investigators have thus far not found any bank accounts with money and said McCant appeared to have spent the funds on personal expenses and jewelry.
Harris said that after the restitution amount is determined, the financial litigation unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office will take over trying to recover any money that can be found.
Prosecutors said in their brief that McCant persuaded two investors, Bernice Tingle and Velma Chavez, to give him their Individual Retirement Account funds and promised but failed to pay the federal and state taxes they incurred for withdrawing those funds.
Tingle and Chavez were among four investors who made victim impact statements during the sentencing.
“I have been affected emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually. I am going to be suffering the rest of my life,” Tingle said.
Chavez said, “I gave Mr. McCant my money and he just squandered it. He has ruined my life.
“He’s a thief and he should be treated like a thief,” she said.
McCant’s attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Steven Kalar, wrote in a sentencing brief that McCant “made legitimate and good faith efforts to promote artists in the music industry.”
But Kalar wrote, “Mr. McCant admittedly did use his business for fraudulent gains and to solicit investments based on misrepresentations–neither the defendant, nor the defense, denies that plain fact.”
McCant was previously convicted of a 1994 attempted robbery, and completed his sentence for that conviction in 2000, Kalar said in the brief.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News