A once-renowned South Florida attorney has been sentenced to 234 months in prison for jumping bond and defrauding more than 700 investors of about $20 million.
Former Broward litigator Michael Casey got his sentence from Chief Judge K. Michael Moore in the Southern District of Florida. Before his sentencing, Casey had entered guilty pleas on one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, in addition to a charge for failing to appear in court. He was ordered to forfeit $269,598, pay $18,919,995 in restitution to victims, and will be under supervised release for three years following his prison sentence.
Attorney Victor Rocha has filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on Casey’s behalf.
This is a far cry from the reputation Casey once enjoyed as a Big Law attorney with Greenberg Traurig, Berger Singerman and Adorno & Yoss. He also once led industry groups, serving as chairman of the Broward County Bar Association’s Corporation, Banking and Business Law Section.
Casey’s troubles stem from his stint as the CEO of Commodities Online, a Fort Lauderdale-based financial services company. While on trial for allegedly defrauding investors, he fled the U.S. for Mexico in April 2014. Officials extradited him back to the U.S., where he testified he’d made money as a fugitive by working as a translator and English instructor.
An attorney who’d invested in Commodities Online submitted to the court a victim-impact letter, saying Casey had disrespected the profession.
“I relied on this person because I identified with him,” the letter read. “I have always done my best to respect the status that comes with being a Iawyer and a member of the Florida Bar, and have Iong known that I am held to a higher standard. Not only has Mr. Casey abused the endorsement given to him as a member of the bar, in flight he has completely disregarded any respect he might have previously had for the judicial system in general.”
Despite Casey’s claims of working as an English teacher, the letter also notes “substantial amounts of money related to his fraudulent activity remain unfound by the receivers/trustees to this date.”
Rocha did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Read the victim impact letter: