SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) - A man who defrauded two Tiburon investors of $1.6 million after claiming he was the son of the president of the Republic of the Congo has been sentenced in federal court in San Francisco to four years and four months in prison.
Blessed Marvelous Herve, 41, was given the sentence Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who also ordered him to pay $1.6 million in restitution to the victims, who now live in Florida.
Herve pleaded guilty before Breyer in September to one count of wire fraud and admitted to carrying out the scheme through a series of false statements and promises.
According to documents filed in the case, Herve met the first victim, a real estate broker, when he responded to an ad for a $6 million house in Tiburon and said his father, the purported Congolese president, was interested in buying several multimillion-dollar residences.
Over the next several years, Herve concocted a series of stories in which he claimed he needed financial help in a secret court case in which he was seeking to recover $43 million seized by the U.S. government.
Herve, who lived in a small apartment, said he lived at the Four Seasons Hotel in the city and had the real estate agent pick him up there to take him to supposed court sessions, but never showed the agent where he lived.
After the real estate agent became financially broke, the agent turned to his girlfriend, a schoolteacher, who contributed more than $950,000, including almost all of her retirement savings, according to federal prosecutors.
Herve was a "dangerous con man," the prosecutors said in a sentencing brief.
Defense attorney Jay Nelson, who unsuccessfully sought a lower sentence of two years and nine months, said in a sentencing brief that Herve was the son of a high-ranking Congolese official, although not the president.
Nelson said Herve's father, stepmother and other relatives were assassinated during a political upheaval in the Congo while Herve was studying music in Southern California in the early 1990s. The defense attorney said the trauma caused Herve to suffer a major depressive disorder.
Herve has been in custody since his arrest on April 13 last year.
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