The former son-in-law of ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced Friday in Los Angeles to nine years behind bars for running two fraud schemes that revealed what the judge called an “evil mind.”
Jeffrey Yohai was also ordered to pay $6.7 million in restitution and serve three years of supervised release following his prison term.
“This is an individual who has an evil mind — I don’t know how else to say it,” U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr. said toward the end of a 2 1/2-hour sentencing hearing. “It seems he felt he could do whatever he wants — but that buck stops here.”
The 37-year-old West Hollywood resident’s attorney had sought a five-year term.
Yohai pleaded guilty in February 2018 to conspiracy to commit bank wire fraud. While awaiting sentencing, he was accused of engaging in similar frauds, prompting his re-arrest and a second guilty plea in June on another wire fraud conspiracy charge.
Yohai conned numerous people and financial institutions out of more than $6 million through bogus deals to develop real estate in wealthy Los Angeles neighborhoods, as well as renting homes he did not own and selling non-existent artist passes to the Coachella Music & Arts Festival, federal prosecutors said.
“In both the old and the new offenses, Yohai usually obtains someone else’s money for a purportedly legitimate purpose, such as an investment, but uses the money for personal expenses, or to pay pre-existing debts, and then lulls the victim into believing that the money has been properly used,” prosecutors stated in court papers.
Yohai “seems to enjoy committing fraud and revels in cheating others out of their hard-earned money, as though he thought real work was only for patsies,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Brown wrote.
Yohai divorced Jessica Manafort — who attended his sentencing hearing — in August 2017. His former father-in-law was found guilty that month on eight counts of financial crimes and is currently serving a sentence of 7 1/2 years in federal prison.
Birotte had a final warning for Yohai before he was led away to lockup.
“I’m going to be here when you get out — and I’m going to remember this case,” the judge said, adding that if the defendant reverts to criminal activity again, the sentence will be harsh.
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