An impending prison sentence wasn’t going to keep Nikesh Patel from living the high life, according to authorities.
Patel had pleaded guilty in federal court in 2016 to wire fraud for a scheme in which he sold sham loans to an investment firm for $179 million and used the cash to fund a lavish lifestyle for himself and his family, The Peoria Journal-Star reported.
The 2010-2014 scheme impacted funds belonging to more than 100 Chicago-area municipalities, 18 public school districts, 15 public libraries and other community institutions, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
He convinced a judge to remain free on bond while he awaited sentencing so he could try to help recoup the money for the victims, the Chicago Tribune reported.
But all he did was scam more people out of money to fuel the lifestyle he’d apparently grown accustomed to — and to leave the country, according to federal prosecutors.
Last year, he posed as a bank executive to get about $19 million more in bogus loans in Florida, where Patel is from, court documents said. He spent the money on lavish ski trips, an expensive home in Orlando and a $30,000 birthday party for his infant daughter, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Patel, 34, was caught at a Kissimmee, Florida airport trying to board a private jet bound for Ecuador in January, the Journal-Star reported. He told federal agents he had been granted political asylum, the newspaper said.
At his sentencing in Chicago on Tuesday, the judge tore into Patel for the botched escape attempt, saying he “turned his back” on the U.S. for requesting asylum because he didn’t want to face the music, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“It’s a little insulting,” said U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras. “His (U.S.) citizenship was the gift of his birth, yet he’s so quick to throw it away because he doesn’t want to face the piper,” he said, also adding that there’s a “certain diabolical genius” to what Patel did.
Patel was sentenced to 25 years in prison, the newspaper said.
Faced with the reality that he was going to be separated from his family, Patel expressed remorse in court, the Tribune reported. “Greed and selfishness may have a short-term benefit,” but in the long run it only hurts those closest to you, he said.