Tuesday, May 09, 2017
A Brooklyn man who used dilapidated Syracuse rentals to steal $127,000 from banks, then fled to Canada for five years, avoided going to jail today after pleading guilty to 32 felonies and misdemeanors.
Alexander March, 34, also admitted to trying to discredit witnesses who testified against him, sending them fake questionnaires and demanding they sign documents that contradicted their sworn testimony. He even claimed to be a lawyer and created a fictitious name, Steven Sanchez.
After a 2011 indictment, March avoided capture for five years by fleeing to Canada with his wife, Sima. He dragged out extradition proceedings until finally surrendering himself at the border in September 2016.
Onondaga County Court Judge Thomas J. Miller had promised March no worse than six months in jail at the time March pleaded guilty to dozens of crimes in the fraud and attempted cover-up.
March came to sentencing today with full restitution for the banks: $127,123.49.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Tarkowski reiterated his position that March should spend two to six years in prison.
But March's lawyer, Emil Rossi, described March as a family man with six children who had a generous heart despite his crimes.
Among other things, March had become a trained emergency medical technician in Canada and rescued an elderly woman from a serious car crash, Rossi said.
Miller called March's rescue of the woman "heroic."
March also volunteered to tutor younger Hasidic Jews and cared for his grandmother, who died recently, Rossi said.
Tarkowski said whatever charity March had undertaken was tainted by the fact he could have been using stolen money.
Miller decided ultimately to put March on probation for five years with no jail time. Most important, the judge said, was that March had made full restitution.
But the judge also credited March for his community service and his lack of prior criminal record.
March's wife, Sima, was also sentenced today to felony falsifying business records for her involvement in the scheme. She was given a conditional discharge, as promised at the time of her plea.
If she stays out of trouble for three years, she will face no further punishment.
Here's how the Marchs' scheme worked:
The couple bought dilapidated homes using cash. Alexander March would put tenants in the properties and then make false claims of assets to obtain new mortgages. He told Syracuse Common Councilors in 2008 that he fixed up the properties; city officials disputed that.
A New York City lawyer, Jon Lefkowitz, had previously pleaded guilty to helping the Marches with the attempted cover-up. Alexander March had claimed to be a lawyer in Lefkowitz's law firm.
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