Friday, October 12, 2007

"The biggest case you've never heard of."

National Century founder Lance Poulsen, 62, of Port Charlotte, Fla., faces 47 federal counts. He appeared Monday in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers, Fla., and was released on bond.

"My client has violated no law and has intended since the beginning to fight any charges against him vigorously," said Poulsen's lawyer, Thomas Tyack. Poulsen already is fighting similar charges in a civil case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Three other former executives had helped the government in 2003 and 2004 by pleading guilty to participating in the scheme. Prosecutors are seeking $2 billion in forfeited property.

If convicted, the defendants could get up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for each money laundering and money laundering conspiracy charge, up to 20 years in prison for certain wire and mail fraud charges and up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the other charges.

Kathy Patrick, a lawyer for a group including the state of Arizona and a London bank that invested more than half of the $3 billion, called it "the biggest case you've never heard of."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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