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Mark Hotton sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for fraud

Mark Hotton leaves federal court in Central Islip

Mark Hotton leaves federal court in Central Islip in this 2013 photo. Credit: James Carbone

A West Islip man -- dubbed by federal prosecutors as "the closest thing anyone has seen to a career white collar criminal" -- was sentenced to 11 1/4 years in federal prison Thursday for defrauding several people and companies of more than $9 million.

Mark Hotton, a former stockbroker, appeared in federal court in Central Islip yesterday wearing a prison-issued black uniform, having just finished serving his 34-month federal prison sentence for ripping off the producers of the Broadway musical "Rebecca" on Monday, his defense attorney said.

Marianne S. Rantala, of Commack, asked for a 34-month sentence, saying her client has found religion and is worried for his family who has lost everything, including his home, now in forfeiture, his boat, and all his cars.

"His reputation is kaput," Rantala said of Hotton, noting that he will never be able to work in finance again. "In the end, he did not personally benefit. He will have to work a regular job just like everyone else."

But U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert imposed sentence saying she had no sympathy for Hotton or his family, adding Hotton is "a classic case of someone not accepting responsibility" for what he had done.

Hotton pleaded guilty in 2013 to a money laundering conspiracy involving scams dating from 1995 to 2012. Seybert said she imposed the longest possible prison term that would bar him from appealing the sentence. Hotton had faced 20 years if he was convicted in a trial. She also ordered him to make $5.75 million in restitution.

Hotton apologized and said he was "very sorry," but told the court that he was "Johnny-come-lately to the scheme that was going on for 20 years before I got involved in it."

Hotton said he is now working for $2 a day in the Bureau of Prisons food services department.

Several of this victims, including a man who died last week, spoke about him in court.

Among them was John Patterson, 71, who said he and his wife Stella, 69, lost nearly $3 million in retirement and life savings while investing with Hotton. John Patterson described how he worked for nearly four decades as a sea clammer on the Atlantic Ocean while raising his family with his wife on Long Beach Island. He made what he thought was "safe, secure" investments with Hotton.

Stella Patterson, 69, said they were deceived by Hotton, who "has given us a life sentence" for depleting them of the funds that were supposed to help fund them through retirement and pay for their four grandchildren's college educations.

A statement on video of Dennis Spina, a victim who passed away last week from cancer, was shown and, in it, Spina asked the judge for the maximum penalty for the man he said ruined his financial life. "He's just a crook and a fraud," said Spina, who spoke softly but sternly in the video while lying in a bed.

About a dozen people, including the Pattersons, yelled "Bye!" and waved to Hotton as he was taken back into the holding cell.

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