December 5, 2009 By Wallin & Klarich

In September, a Federal Judge in Riverside County sentenced Richard Monroe Harkless to 100 years in prison for operating a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors of about $35 million. Federal prosecutors boast that the sentence is the longest ever imposed for a financial crime in Southern California. Harkless ran the scheme form 2000-2003 through a company he called MX Factors and dozens of the company’s estimated 700 investors wrote the judge to demand a stiff sentence. Victims complained of postponed retirements, sleepless nights, and prescriptions for anti-depressant medications. U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips, in explaining her sentence, said Harkless has caused “every kind of grief imaginable”. The U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the case commented that Harkless has shown zero remorse and the sentence is appropriate given the incredible amount of harm he has caused.

This case highlights the importance of hiring an experienced Riverside federal defense attorney. This is because Harkless made the extremely unwise decision to act as his own attorney at trial. Harkless blamed the losses on a failed business model and argues that agents in his company had made inappropriate promises to investors without his knowledge. To add insult to injury, Harkless argued in his closing that he had no regrets and would make the same decisions again if he had the opportunity. The old adage “a person who defends himself has a fool for a client” rings ever true in this case.

Harkless should have known and considered the economic climate surrounding his case with the nation’s recession. Furthermore, Harkless should have considered the strong negative attitude toward his case given the recent Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme where Madoff was convicted of running a $65 Billion Ponzi scheme and got 150 years in prison earlier this year. Both situations made it very difficult to beat this case and required the legal training, skills and knowledge only an experienced federal defense attorney possesses.

It is important to contact a criminal defense attorney who can provide the best defense possible. If you or someone you love has been accused of a crime in California contact the experienced Southern California criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today at 1-888-280-6839 or for a consultation of your case. We can help you.

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