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Bethesda 'Serial Fraudster' Sentenced In New York To 21 Years

Michael Howard Clott, of Bethesda, allegedly misappropriated millions given to him by victims for purported real estate investments and home purchases.

A Bethesda man who federal prosecutors called a “serial fraudster” was sentenced in Manhattan federal court in New York to more than 21 years in prison for his role in real estate investment and mortgage fraud schemes in which he attempted to steal more than $10 million.

Michael Howard Clott, of Bethesda, was sentenced to 21 years and 7 months in prison on Oct. 1, after pleading guilty to frauds committed in 2008 and 2009 according to the United State’s Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.  Clott, 59, pleaded guilty to some of the frauds in 2009, jumped bail, was arrested in 2010, and pleaded guilty to further fraud in 2011.

Clott, who has five previous felony fraud convictions, misappropriated millions given to him by victims for purported real estate investments and home purchases in 2008 and 2009, prosecutors said. Clott used an alias, forged documents and stolen identities to commit the frauds, and in one instance used $1.3 million of a victim’s money to buy a hair salon for his daughter, the New York U.S. Attorney's office said.

While Clott was on supervised release from a 1994 Maryland fraud conviction, he returned to defrauding investors in 2008 and 2009, prosecutors said. In one of the four schemes for which he was sentenced Monday, federal prosecutors said he pretended to buy a Margate, NJ apartment for a victim and to provide a loan to fund the purchase. According to the release, he stole $455,000 from the victim for purported loan repayments and misappropriated the funds.

In another scheme, federal prosecutors said he stole $200,000 from a Maryland family, purporting to invest the money in real estate. A spokeswoman for the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York couldn’t specify where in Maryland the family lived.

Clott pleaded guilty in December 2009 to three of the schemes for which he was sentenced Monday. When authorities learned he was allegedly committing a fourth scheme, he fled while on bail, and remained a fugitive until he was captured in Massachusetts in April 2010.

Clott had previously been convicted of fraud several times in Maryland in the 1980s and 1990s, according to the release. One of the charges stemmed from what attorneys said was a scheme to defraud inmates of the Raybrook Federal Correctional Institution, where he was serving time.

“Undeterred by his multiple convictions, Michael Howard Clott is the very definition of a ‘serial fraudster,’ targeting his unsuspecting victims in scam after scam for nearly three decades,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in the statement. “At a minimum, today’s sentence will prevent him from ensnaring anyone else in his frauds for many years to come.”

An attorney for Clott, Charles Samuel Hochbaum, had no comment when reached by phone.

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