LOS ANGELES (AP) — As an accounting executive at Gulfstream Aerospace, Marvin Jay Caukin was pulling in a quarter-million dollars a year and had a wife 30 years his junior. He was living a lavish lifestyle that included splitting time between two luxury Los Angeles-area homes, and paying for the company of female escorts, luxury cars and $800 dinners, federal investigators say.
Turns out, Caukin's salary was hardly funding any of it.
Caukin was sentenced to 11¼ years in prison Monday after he admitted to embezzling more than $10 million from Gulfstream during a 13-year period as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Caukin's defense attorney, Mark Werksman, said the 66-year-old was devastated by the sentence. Werkman had argued in court records that a lengthy prison term at Caukin's age amounted to a life sentence, would be insulting to victims of violent crimes, and that Caukin's family needs him.
Werksman had argued that Caukin be sentenced to probation or no more than six years in prison.
"He's a good man who did a bad thing," Werksman said. "He's extremely remorseful."
Before he was sentenced, Caukin apologized in court and begged Judge John Walter for mercy.
Prosecutors had asked that Walter sentence Caukin to 12½ years in prison, arguing that Caukin had previously been convicted in an embezzlement scheme at another company in the early 1990s before he was hired at Gulfstream on a bogus resume in 2000.
Caukin served about three years in prison in the previous case, and he clearly didn't learn his lesson, prosecutors said.
"... From 1994 until 2013, when defendant was fired (from Gulfstream), the only years defendant was not continually committing fraud were those in which he was incarcerated," prosecutors argued in court records.
Gulfstream hired Caukin in 2000, putting him in charge of finance and accounting for its facilities in Las Vegas and Long Beach, California, prosecutors say. Almost immediately, Caukin had close friends and family set up shell companies while he gave Gulfstream fake invoices for nonexistent work, always keeping the charges under $100,000 to avoid suspicion, according to investigators.
Gulfstream would send checks to bank accounts that Caukin and his friends and family had opened in the names of the bogus companies. Caukin, a married father of three, spent the money on two luxury homes in the Los Angeles area, a Mercedes Benz, female escorts, five-star hotels, fancy restaurants, and expensive art and jewelry, investigators say.
It worked for more than a decade.
FBI Special Agent Sherine Ebadi, who investigated Caukin for about 13 months before his arrest, told The Associated Press on Monday that Caukin's scheme was one of the most sophisticated she's seen.
"He was really patient," Ebadi said. "He took a lot of money over a long period of time and that takes patience ... A lot of people steal as much money as they can as fast as they can, whereas he seemed to be in it for the long haul."
Ebadi said Caukin was only caught after someone at Gulfstream searched for his name on Google and found out about his previous embezzlement. The company fired Caukin, and it soon after discovered that he also had been stealing from Gulfstream.
A Gulfstream spokesman declined to comment.
In addition to his prison term, Caukin was ordered to pay more than $10 million in restitution and forfeit his two homes, worth an estimated $2.4 million.
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