His association with a flamboyant swindler and, by extension, a Roseville-based $100 million mortgage and investment fraud, set federal agents on Scott Edward Cavell’s trail.
The Sacramento native fled to Ireland in 2009, where life became a nightmare when he was thrown into an ancient prison on a marijuana bust. After eight months of incarceration, he volunteered to return to the United States and surrender to federal authorities.
Cavell was sentenced Tuesday in Sacramento federal court to five years in prison, a relatively light sentence given his flight and compared to what he could have faced. His co-defendant, Christopher Jared Warren, got 14 years and seven months.
Now 31, Cavell pleaded guilty in April to one count of wire fraud.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Hemesath sought a low sentence of seven years and one month based on Cavell’s cooperation in the ongoing prosecution of Lawrence Leland “Lee” Loomis, the alleged mastermind behind Loomis Wealth Solutions. Hemesath also cited the “hard time” that Cavell served in Ireland and his waiver of any right to remain in that country.
But defense attorney John Manning’s vigorous plea for five years carried the day.
He said Cavell was 21 and attending American River College when he was contacted by Warren, whom he had known when they both were students at Jesuit High School.
“Warren was already everything the court knows him to be: intelligent, manipulative, utterly self-absorbed, and totally amoral,” Manning wrote in a sentencing memorandum submitted to the judge. “Unfortunately, what Scott saw was a young man his own age with all the traditional benefits of wealth.”
Eventually, Cavell worked as an assistant to Warren for six months at Loomis Wealth Solutions.
When U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez imposed the five-year term, applause broke out among more than 30 Cavell supporters, a rare occurrence in the restrictive environment of federal courts. Mendez, who ignored the applause, said leniency was appropriate because, in addition to Cavell’s cooperation, “he has accepted responsibility, he is making an effort to rehabilitate himself, and Warren’s crimes were much more serious. The time he has spent incarcerated has changed (Cavell) to some extent.”
Cavell accepted Mendez’s invitation to address the judge, saying he left the country after his then-lawyer and Warren both scared him with warnings about a long prison term if federal investigators tied him to Loomis Wealth Solutions.
But, he added, “I should have listened to my gut, and not the devil sitting on my shoulder. All I can do now is deal with it.”
Unlike Warren, who admitted to fraud that cost victims nearly $20 million, Cavell’s plea was confined to his part in a theft of more than $7.4 million from a now-defunct Florida mortgage lender, part of a complex scam orchestrated by Warren.
Warren, now 32, fled the country in February 2009 on a chartered jet with approximately $5 million in gold and roughly half a million dollars in cash. He flew first to Ireland, then to Lebanon. Warren was nabbed nine days later as he tried to re-enter the United States from Canada at Buffalo, N.Y. The gold and most of the cash were missing, but $70,000 was stuffed into his cowboy boots.
Separately, Cavell took a commercial flight from Sacramento to Ireland, along with gold and cash totaling about $1.7 million, where he remained for three years and eight months.
“He was alone, isolated, away from his friends and family for the first time,” according to Manning’s sentencing memo. “He was unable to work and the bulk of his funds were dissipated by Scott’s poor decisions while trying to find ways to survive in a country he did not know.” The memo described Cavell as depressed, drinking heavily and using drugs continuously.
He was arrested March 6, 2012, by Irish authorities for possession of marijuana and housed in notorious Mountjoy Prison, a forbidding, 165-year-old Dublin prison.
“The conditions were deplorable, with buckets used as a latrine, rodent infestation, no running water, severe overcrowding, and no heat or air conditioning,” Manning wrote in his memo. “It is a place where Ireland houses the worst of the worst.” Cavell was there for about eight months.
In November 2012, Irish police put him on a flight to Chicago, where he was arrested by two Internal Revenue Service agents as he disembarked. He has been in the Sacramento County jail since Dec. 27, 2012.
Call The Bee’s Denny Walsh, (916)321-1189.