Convicted Long Island mortgage fraudster David Gotterup got more than three years trimmed off his sentence for a $3.5 million mortgage modification scam on Wednesday despite a claim by Brooklyn federal prosecutors that he plagiarized parts of his personal plea for leniency.
Gotterup, 37, of Oceanside, was sentenced to 15 years in March for bilking more than 1,000 homeowners, but U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis agreed to resentence him this week because he hadn’t given notice that the term might exceed federal sentencing guidelines of 135 to 168 months.
In an emotional letter to the judge, Gotterup — whose attorneys at the first hearing cited his hard upbringing after his father, Bruce, was murdered in a notorious 1991 drug-related mob hit — blamed himself for being a “coward” and making excuses instead of taking responsibility.
“All of us have spent some amount of time in the miserable camp called you ‘Reep [sic] what you sow’!” Gotterup wrote. “I know there is no disappointment like that which comes from self-generated wrong doing.”
But prosecutor Sylvia Shweder told Garaufis that line, and several others in the letter, were identical to passages in the foreword to a book of advice for prison inmates called “Serving Productive Time,” and gave the judge highlighted copies from the book.
Based on the copied lines, she said, “It’s hard for us to believe that it’s sincere.”
The judge was more forgiving. When it came time for Gotterup to speak, Garaufis said the copying didn’t bother him. “It’s still your thoughts,” he said. “I don’t take exception for that.”
Gotterup repeated his regret about making excuses. “I realize my life has to change,” he said.
The judge listened, told Gotterup that he didn’t want to send a message that white-collar crime was condoned, and then reduced the sentence to 135 months — the lower end of the federal sentencing guidelines range. Garaufis didn’t explain his change of heart.
Later Wednesday, he sentenced a co-defendant in the same scheme who played a lesser role, Jason Green, 36, of Oceanside, to a six-month home-detention curfew but no jail time. He was also ordered to make restitution.