Attorneys for former Mastro Auctions executive Doug Allen have asked a federal judge for mercy ahead of his February 8 sentencing on fraud charges.
Submitting a 39-page letter and more than 100 pages of exhibits as part of a pre-sentencing investigation report, attorneys Valarie Hays and Shawna Boothe of Schiff-Harden in Chicago asked Judge Ronald Guzman to sentence Allen to no more than 18 months in federal prison. They say government attorneys have asked for a 57-month sentence for Allen, who pleaded guilty to participating in a shill bidding scheme and tipped off the target of a separate FBI investigation while wearing a recording device.
In the report, Hays and Boothe say the nearly six years of prison time federal prosecutors are requesting is too severe considering Allen’s role in the Mastro case and his lack of prior criminal activity. They believe Allen deserves less than the 20 month sentence Mastro is now serving for orchestrating the scheme, which prosecutors say inflated the selling prices of at least 1,300 auction items over several years.
Calling Allen “a good person who is deeply sorry for his actions”, Hays and Boothe say Allen “provided valuable information against Mastro and other defendants in the case” while Mastro did little to assist the government’s investigation of his now-defunct auction house, once among the giants of the industry.
Their report states that Mastro began defrauding customers two years before Allen joined the company and received all of the profits from the wrongdoing while Allen was simply a salaried employee.
Attorneys also told the court about Allen’s role in the ongoing investigation of the hobby:
“After Mr. Allen was interviewed by the Government and provided truthful and complete information on the extent of his role in the conspiracy, the Government continued to use him as a cooperator in other unrelated cases. For approximately 14 months, Mr. Allen provided information and documentary evidence to the Government about fraudulent practices in the sports memorabilia industry. He made multiple recordings through telephone calls and in person meetings with targets of the Government’s investigations.
Indeed, Mr. Allen’s cooperation exceeded that of other defendants. He recorded dozens of phone calls and in-person meetings with individuals suspected of fraudulent practices, all under the direction of the Government. Although he justifiably lost his cooperation deal with the Government for his conduct with respect to one investigation, Mr. Allen respectfully requests that this Court take into account his extensive cooperation with the Government over a 14-month period.”
Allen, married for 32 years and a father of three, left Mastro to start Legendary Auctions after the FBI began investigating Mastro several years ago.
Part of the attorneys’ filing included a document showing 347 specific lots that investigators say included shill bids between 2002 and 2009. However, the figure could be much higher since Mastro had an employee destroy some bidding records after the government began investigating the company. The New York Daily News reported on the case Saturday.