On Thursday afternoon at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Bala Cynwyd businessman Robert Krikorian, aka the "Montco Madoff," was sentenced to three to seven years in state prison on theft charges, with an additional 35 years of probation following the successful completion of his prison sentence.
Krikorian spoke on his own behalf, apologizing to the victims, but also defending his character and the good things he did before the thefts.
"I'm not a criminal," Krikorian said. "I made a mistake. I'm no thief."
As the sentencing hearing began, Judge Smyth made it clear to both Assistant District Attorney John Walko and defense attorney Gregory Dipippo that the defendant would not be sentenced for each count of each charge. Krikorian had pleaded guilty to stealing money from 39 of his clients at Krikorian Associates, which he was supposed to use to help buy businesses.
"I'm going to sentence him once. He'll be responsible for making full restitution, but I'm not going to sentence him on each count," said Smyth.
Two of Krikorian's victims took the stand, reciting how they were duped out of their savings and speaking of the changes they've had to make in the aftermath of those losses.
During both victims' testimony, Krikorian, dressed in blue prison attire, sat silently with his head down.
"I live like a single mom now. I'm taking care of my kids and working full time. This has devastated us, and now we're back at zero," said a victim, who requested her name not be used due to the sensitivity of her husband's work.
"I've heard the statements made by Mr. Krikorian's attorney, as well as his friends and family members who have said he's been a reputable business man for many years. When the economy went sour is when they said he began to do these things."
"That's a disgrace! You don't ever have to steal money from someone," added the victim, as she stared angrily at the man who had taken $22,500 from her and her husband.
Another victim, Thomas Corkery, of Voorhees, NJ, took the stand next.
"The only thing I'm sorry to hear today, Your Honor, is that the sentencing guidelines do not take into consideration the number of people here in the audience who he has impacted, and the fact that we are not a corporation, but a group of individuals who he hurt," said Corkery.
"I have five children, and I can appreciate the cost of living, but I cannot appreciate someone stealing," Corkery added.
After the victims finished their statements, Judge Smyth heard arguments from both sides regarding sentencing recommendations.
Defense attorney Dipippo focused his argument on Krikorian's previous good acts and requested that he be sentenced to county prison where he could join a work-release program and begin to pay restitution to his victims.
Numerous character letters were also submitted from Krikorian's family, friends, and former clients.
On the prosecution side, Walko focused on the number of victims, and the damage that had been done.
"What sets this case apart from the number of other cases that come through this court involving large thefts and large amounts of money is that these victims, as Mr. Corkery stated, aren't a corporation that can write the loss off as a tax deduction." said Walko. "They're not a municipality that has yearly revenue streams. They're not millionaires that aren't going to miss a couple thousand dollars here or there. They're the type of people who wake up in the morning, go to work, live modestly, and save their money. Then, they were unfortunate enough to meet Mr. Krikorian."
"He took their American dream and turned it into an American nightmare," said Walko.
After the arguments were heard, Krikorian spoke.
"I am really sorry. I am truthfully sorry," said Krikorian, as he looked at his victims seated in the courtroom. "When I took this money, I had no intention not to give it back."
"I am sorry, but I cannot change what I did. I have to live with this."
Krikorian then went on a rant, citing various good deeds he had done since he came to America in the 1970s, including helping a homeless man find work as a window washer, and loaning a friend $30,000 to close a business deal.
His victims began to groan, and some of them actually had to avert their eyes, as to not look at the man who had stolen so much from them.
"I have helped so many of my clients. My clients today are millionaires," continued Krikorian. "My guidance and my coaching have helped hundreds and hundreds of clients."
After Krikorian's bizarre allocution wrapped up, Judge Smyth rendered his decision, sentencing the defendant to three to seven years in state prison, dating retroactively to Nov. 10, 2010.
In addition to the prison sentence, Krikorian was ordered to make restitution to the victims in the amount of $692,000.51, as well as seven years of probation apiece for the five other charges, totaling 35 years of court supervision.
As an incentive, court supervision will cease once full restitution is made, though the court stipulated that while Krikorian is serving probation, he is forbidden to work in any capacity as a broker.
After the sentencing hearing, both the prosecution and defense reflected on the case.
"I think he's remorseful and contrite in everything he said to the court. He is deeply sorry for damaging all those people's lives," said Dipippo, who also pointed out that the money was never used for extravagant purposes, instead being spent on home and business expenses.
On the prosecution side, Walko seemed to view the sentence as bittersweet.
"I believe we're all satisfied with the jail sentence, but until he pays all that money back, justice won't be done," Walko said.