A Florida judge rejected two appeals Monday and postponed sentencing again for Phillip Roy Wasserman, convicted of orchestrating a massive fraud scheme on senior citizens.
Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell paved the way, however, for Wasserman’s second trial on tax evasion charges to begin on schedule later this month. An evidentiary hearing will take place before then on Wasserman’s motion for a new trial.
Wasserman was convicted May 15 on nine felony counts. The three most serious – wire fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud – all carry maximum sentences of 20 years. The self-styled “Annuity King” in Florida promotions, Wasserman ran a fraud totaling $6.3 million, the government alleged, money it seeks to recover.
The government claims Wasserman, 66, with Kenneth Rossman, lied and concealed information to convince elderly victim-investors to put their money into Wasserman’s life insurance venture called, “FastLife.”
Judge rejects appeals
Honeywell consolidated four appeals made by Wasserman into one hearing Monday. The judge denied an appeal of a ruling to sever the tax charges. Wasserman alleged prosecutorial misconduct, including a closing argument that painted him as “a tax evader.”
Likewise, the judge upheld a magistrate judge ruling denying a Wasserman motion to force the government to turn over information related to the tax charges.
The other two appeals ask for a new trial. Honeywell scheduled an evidentiary hearing for Oct. 23, which Wasserman called, “a major win for us.”
Wasserman had been scheduled for sentencing in September, with the government recommending a prison term of 324 to 405 months. Instead, Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell granted Wasserman’s motion for a continuance so that out-of-town witnesses can testify on his behalf. On Monday, she further delayed his scheduled Oct. 5 sentencing date.
Meanwhile, Wasserman alleges a wide range of prosecutorial misconduct. In particular, in an August 2021 motion, Wasserman’s attorneys asked the court to compel Rossman to take a psychiatric exam before he testified. A judge rejected that motion.
Despite facing a sentencing range of 30 to 37 months, Rossman was sentenced to probation in July. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, and one count of “aiding and assisting the preparation and filing of fraud and false tax returns” in a plea deal with the federal government.
In a presentencing report, Rossman – represented by federal public defenders – cited a bipolar disorder and that he is the “sole caregiver” of two special-needs sons in arguing for probation. Wasserman claims the government purposely “hid” Rossman’s bipolar diagnosis.
In its response, government attorneys claimed Rossman’s mental health issues have no bearing on Wasserman’s conviction.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
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