July 18--ALBANY -- He took her money, her home and her credit.
Now Arthur Strasnick is going to federal prison for five years -- and his victim is dealing with the indefinite fallout from a financial "atrocity."
That's what the woman told a federal judge Tuesday before Strasnick was sentenced for a nearly $2 million Ponzi scheme and mortgage scam. The 52-year-old victim said it left her in a financial nightmare and on the brink of suicide.
"I continue to be tortured by your actions," the woman told Strasnick, 64, of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., calling his crimes "vile, premeditated evil."
Strasnick not only conned the woman and others into investing in a pyramid scheme, but also forged her name on a mortgage for her $1.2 million home in Saratoga Springs.
She said while Strasnick is going to prison, the federal government has been powerless to help her with the multitude of bank and credit issues that have surfaced since she was victimized. She can no longer afford her children's college tuition, and Bank of America took out a $9,000 homeowners insurance policy in her name, which she owes, all because of Strasnick.
She said she got into her car with the family pet at one point, planning to kill herself, but decided against it. The Times Union is withholding the woman's identity.
"I'm out there in a storm that is still raging with no chance of coming out of the cold," she told Senior Judge Thomas McAvoy. "Where is the justice?"
The judge told the woman: "There's no doubt that your experience in this matter has been nothing less than horrendous. And there doesn't appear to be any relief in sight."
When the judge asked Strasnick if he wanted to speak, he only said, "I'm very remorseful for what happened."
The judge responded. "You realize that doesn't help the victims? ... It's a start for you."
He reminded Strasnick that his past of scams makes him somewhat less than convincing.
"The problem is you have a long history, which tells me you don't give a damn what happened to these victims," McAvoy said. "That makes (you), in my eye, something less than human."
The judge -- who called the crime "horrific" -- also sentenced Strasnick to pay $1,994,620 in restitution to his various victims.
Strasnick's scams were twofold, according to his agreement to plead guilty to mail fraud in August 2011.
In the first scam, he solicited investments as president and chief executive officer of Backstreet Associates, based both in Ormond Beach, Fla., and Saratoga Springs. Between March 2003 and December 2006, Strasnick promised two investors a "guaranteed" rate of return of 12 percent to 20 percent annually. He made periodic payments to the victims, claiming they were based on accrued interest, though it was actually money from other investors or the same investor, court papers show.
He also sent fabricated monthly statements to the victims. The money, court papers show, was spent on himself.
The mortgage scam, which was separate, preyed upon some of the same victims.
On Sept. 7, 2006, Strasnick conned the woman into transferring her Joshua Road property to him under the agreement that he would make all mortgage and tax payments. That day, he illegally obtained a mortgage of more than $873,000 under the victim's name -- then endorsed and deposited checks for more than $192,000 into an account only accessible by him, court papers show.
The next day, he forged the woman's name on the mortgage in Saratoga County.
Earlier that year, Strasnick conned a couple with the same scam in Ticonderoga for a mortgage of at least $722,000.
In court papers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Belliss, the most recent prosecutor on the case, told the judge, "The sentence should properly reflect the devastating impact his acts had on the lives of his victims."
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