Nevin Shapiro lived like a modern-day Caligula. He seemed to have it all: a luxurious Miami Beach mansion on the bay, parties that attracted local notables and sports superstars, fast cars, big yacht, women and the athlete's lounge at the University of Miami named after him. It all came tumbling down after the SEC accused Shapiro of running a $900 million Ponzi scheme, and yesterday Shapiro was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Forty-two-year-old Shaprio's rise to lavishness and eventual downfall was chronicled in a New Times feature back in December. Shapiro told his victims that his company, Capitol Investments USA Inc., was a grocery distribution business and that he raised $900 million from dozens of investors. At least $100 million of that money was lost and $35 million was used to fuel his lavish lifestyle, which included $5 million for his mansion, hundreds of thousands of dollars in athletics tickets (including court-side Heat tickets), parties, and other pricey accouterments. Shapiro also donated $150,000 to the University of Miami football program, and in return had the school's student-athlete lounge named in his honor (though, that name was quickly removed.)
U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton sentenced Shapiro to 20 years in prison, which was a longer sentence than prosecutors were asking for. Wigenton also ordered Shapiro to pay back $82 million in restitution to his more than 60 victims.
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"What was clear was you were living the high life, and I'm sure it was really good when it was good," Wigenton told Shapiro during the sentencing in a New Jersey court room. "I'm sure that when you're sitting behind bars, you'll ask yourself 'was it all worth it?'"
"I'm really devastated for my mom and dad, but I got to tell you, my greatest remorse is for the victims who were impacted by my conduct," Shapiro responded. "Sometimes we are faced with situations where desperation weighs out over humiliation, and I really tried to right the wrongs, but I wasn't able to."
Shapiro had plead guilty to the charges back in September and has been cooperative with the investigation. His attorneys had hoped it would land him a lighter sentence.