The owner of a Sparks-based insurance company who admitted to defrauding his customers of millions of dollars in premiums was sentenced by a federal judge Thursday to 37 years in prison and ordered to pay back $137 million.
Jeffrey Brian Cohen, 40, of Reisterstown, pleaded guilty in June to charges including wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, making false statements to an insurance regulator and obstruction of justice.
Prosecutors also accused him of plotting to kill two people, charges he denied in representing himself at a June trial.
"The evidence demonstrated that Jeffrey Cohen was a chronic con artist who was planning to commit murder to prevent his fraud schemes from coming to light," U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement.
As part of a plea agreement, Cohen admitted that from 2008 until 2013, he falsified wire transfers, bank statements and letters of credit to make it appear to financial rating and auditing companies that his company could afford to cover more possible insurance payouts than it actually could.
That allowed Cohen's company, Indemnity Insurance Corp., to take in more than $100 million in premiums from more than 5,000 policyholders who did not have the insurance coverage they thought they did.
The company provided liability insurance to bars, clubs and entertainment companies.
Cohen paid himself $96,000 a month, according to court officials, amassing assets including a house on the water in Florida, three in Maryland and vehicles including an Aston Martin owned by his company and a Lexus SUV with the vanity plate "RISKTKR."
When federal agents arrested him in June 2014, they found firearms, disguises and a notebook with what they said appeared to be a "hit list" that included the Delaware judge overseeing the liquidation of his business and an elected official.
At trial, he told jurors the 31-count case against him was pointless. He said there were "no victims" of his actions because none of his clients lost money. He said the firearms were for an African hunting trip and to protect a check-cashing store he had purchased, and the disguises were for a masquerade ball.
Under the ruling by U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr., Cohen also faces three years of supervised release and forfeiture of assets.
"Cohen's substantial criminal conduct may have benefited him short-term, but now Cohen is being held accountable for his criminal actions," Thomas Jankowski, special agent in charge for Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation's Washington field office, said in a statement.