(NEW YORK) — “Lottery lawyer” Jason Kurland promised his clients protection from swindlers but he ended up swindling them himself, a federal judge said Thursday as he sentenced Kurland to 13 years in federal prison for defrauding clients out of more than $107 million.
“They were lucky winners, but when they got Mr. Kurland, they were losers,” Judge Nicholas Garaufis said before handing down a sentence that was higher than what prosecutors sought.
“When they won the lottery, they were very vulnerable,” Assistant United States Attorney Olga Zverovitch said. “They needed guidance and they needed help. Instead, he exploited his clients’ trust.”
Kurland was convicted last July of fraud, conspiracy and unlawful monetary transactions. He steered his clients, winners of some of the biggest lottery jackpots ever in the U.S., into investments in companies that, unbeknownst to them, he owned or were owned by co-conspirators in the scheme, who siphoned money for themselves and paid Kurland secret kickbacks.
When risky investment strategies involving jewelry deals resulted in big losses, Kurland doubled down, convincing clients to invest in COVID-19 personal protective equipment deals, at least two of which were brokered by one of his co-defendants.
The victims were not identified by name, but prosecutors said they included the winners of a then-record $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot, a $245 million Powerball jackpot and a $150 million Powerball jackpot.
“I am so deeply sorry,” Kurland said through tears. “I stand here before the court deeply regretful.”
The 13-year prison sentence “far exceeds what’s necessary,” the defense said.
“The numbers are gargantuan,” defense attorney Tim Kasulis said. “We ask for whatever mercy we can.”
Kurland must report to prison no later than Oct. 18.
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.