A federal judge sentenced a Syosset man who had been named the nation's "most wanted deadbeat" parent to 31 months in prison Tuesday despite pleas from two ex-wives that he not be imprisoned.
The former spouses wanted Robert Sand, 50, to immediately begin working in order to repay the more than $1 million he owes them. The federal probation department made a similar recommendation.
But U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco in Central Islip disagreed.
"What kind of message would I be sending" to other deadbeat parents -- and society in general -- if he didn't order prison time in such a case, he asked.
"This is a horrendous crime," Bianco said. "I have to send a message of deterrence."
Before the sentence was imposed, Sand told the judge, "I'm very sorry. . . . I accept full responsibility for what I've done."
Bianco ordered Sand, who had been a fugitive for more than a decade, to make restitution totaling $903,000 to the ex-wives. They are also owed interest and penalties through local courts.
In letters to the court, the wives said they've forgiven Sand and felt it more important that the former businessman be released so he could get a job and begin paying his debt, Bianco said.
Sand married his first wife in Nassau County, and after they divorced, he married a second time in Florida, according to court records. Sand broke up with the second wife and fled without paying child support for his three daughters -- two from the first marriage and one from the second.
Before Tuesday's sentencing, Sand's first wife, Lisa Sand, who now lives in California, told the judge, "What he did was horrendous. . . . But I need the money now."
Sand, named the federal government's "most wanted deadbeat" in 2012, had earned up to $600,000 a year in the automobile-auction business on Long Island before becoming a fugitive, court records say.After Tuesday's sentencing, Sand's attorney, Glenn Obedin, of Central Islip, said his client "understands the seriousness of his unfortunate actions. The only disappointment he finds in the sentence is the delay in his ability to immediately . . . repay the debt he owes."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Bode declined to comment.