Conventional wisdom for defendants swept up in federal investigations is that “the first one on the bus” is going to get the best deal, meaning the first one to cooperate with authorities.
In the case of Mhde Askar, a convicted mortgage fraudster who wore a wire on Ald. Howard Brookins, he not only was first on the bus but stayed there for six long years in what his defense lawyer, prosecutor and judge now all agree was an “extraordinary” cooperative arrangement with federal investigators.
Askar not only helped take down his co-defendants in two separate multi-million dollar mortgage fraud cases but agreed to be sent undercover by federal agents in multiple unrelated probes in which he had no prior involvement or knowledge.
On Tuesday, that long bus ride paid off for Askar when U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman spared him from going to prison by sentencing him to five days time served.
Askar, 28, who had faced seven to nine years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, sobbed when the judge announced the decision, just as he had minutes earlier when he apologized to his family for the shame he had caused them.
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