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Judge sentences local real estate agent to 10 years

By Staff | Sep 17, 2009

The man who earned everything too fast now has nothing — and time to spare.
Samir Cabrera, the disgraced Fort Myers real estate agent who made million-dollar deals before the age of 30, will spend the next 10 years in a federal prison after being sentenced on fraud and money laundering charges Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge John E. Steele called the sentence “substantial.”
“At some point, you could have stopped this,” he told Cabrera. “I don’t think you wanted to.”
Cabrera, 32, will remain free until Oct. 2, the date of a hearing to determine restitution for his victims.
He showed little reaction as he stood before Steele.
Cabrera’s wife, Jessica Stilwell, dropped her head into her hands upon Steele’s announcement. She embraced her husband, and they left the courtroom together without speaking to the press.
Steele’s sentence falls in the middle of a range calculated over the past two days, when attorneys for both parties debated the terms of sentencing guidelines and attempted to define Cabrera’s crimes before the judge.
Investor Tom Messina, who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the deals, said Cabrera deserved the 10 years.
“I think he should’ve started his sentence this evening,” he said.
Cabrera bilked investors out of $2.8 million in a pair of property flips in South Fort Myers. Prosecutors said his maneuvers resulted in the failures of both commercial developments and caused investors to lose everything.
In a prepared statement before Steele, Cabrera never admitted fault, but said he felt for investors who had “lost money, been hurt, have been stressed by all the things that went on with all these businesses.”
Cabrera asked forgiveness from his wife, whom he called “loyal to a fault,” and he asked Steele for leniency.
“I would like another chance to be a better person,” Cabrera said. “I would like a chance to be a better father and a husband to my wife.”
In her statement to the court, Stilwell, a former broadcast anchor, apologized to investors. She asked that Steele consider the couple’s daughters, twin 4-year-olds and a 2-year-old.
“He has a family, and his kids deserve a dad,” Stilwell said.
Three investors spoke on behalf of the prosecution, with each requesting that Steele sentence harshly. The statements became personal at moments, with one of the investors asking that the court have someone monitor Cabrera’s children.
Cabrera’s likely appeal loomed over the hearing’s two days. His attorneys fought every suggestion that their client acted with intent, and they questioned the provision under which he was convicted, the concept of “intangible right to honest services.”
“Mr. Cabrera was acquitted of defrauding investors of money,” Cabrera’s attorney Russell K. Rosenthal said at one point.
Steele sided with prosecutors.
“The defense has attempted to try this case again at the sentencing hearing,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Michelland observed in his final statement.
Cabrera received three years supervised release to follow his prison time. He was required to forfeit $75,500 in funds considered proceeds from his crimes.
The October restitution hearing will determine how money will be split between Cabrera’s victims.
Prosecutors struggled Wednesday to count the precise number of victims, placing it between 10 and 49. Their total loss was calculated at $2,065,000.

Steven Beardsley is a staff writer for the Naples Daily News. Contact sbeardsley@naplesnews.com.