On the eve of trial, a once-powerful Miami Beach concert promoter pleaded guilty Friday to ripping off a single investor — though his federal plea deal still leaves him vulnerable to prison for the rest of his life.
Jack Utsick, who produced tours for Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson and other superstars, faces up to 17 years in prison and must repay more than $169 million to thousands of his investors, many of whom were retired commercial airline pilots like him.
But Utsick’s defense attorneys said their 73-year-old client is ailing and broke, factors that could help him obtain lighter punishment at his sentencing Aug. 23 before U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga.
“We will be asking for a substantially lower sentence,” said Washington, D.C., lawyer Eric Lisann, who is working on the defense with Miami attorney David Weinstein.
Meantime, there is a lot of debate about whether the Orlando shooter's wife committed a crime. From the Sun-Sentinel:
The wife of Orlando massacre shooter Omar Mateen, Noor Zahi Salman, is talking to the FBI, a law enforcement official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation.
Among other things, investigators are looking at whether Salman helped Mateen plan or scout out the rampage at the Orlando nightclub, or knew about his plans.
Mateen visited a number of Disney properties since April, and was most recently spotted early this month in Disney Springs, an outdoor shopping and entertainment complex inWalt Disney World, according to a U.S. law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.
It's possible that Mateen's visit overlapped with Gay Days Orlando, which went from May 31 to June 6 this year. The annual event brings thousands of LGBT individuals and families to Central Florida.
The organizers of Gay Days arrange some ticket packages at Disney parks during the annual event and designate parks to attend on certain days.Another U.S. official said that information provided to the FBI by Disney made it clear that Mateen was not simply acting as a tourist during a visit to Walt Disney World two or three months ago.
Mateen's wife, Salman, has told FBI agents that she drove with him to the Pulse nightclub on at least one occasion before Sunday's shooting, and that she accompanied him to shop at a firearms dealer.
Mateen bought a Glock handgun and an AR-15-type semiautomatic rifle during two separate visits this month to the St. Lucie Shooting Center, several miles from PGA Village, a gated community where he worked as a security guard.
The FBI is investigating whether Salman also had knowledge of his plan to attack and kill patrons at the gay nightclub.
If Salman knew of her husband's intent to commit terrorist acts and didn't report it to law enforcement, she could face criminal charges. But a federal law enforcement official said the Justice Department is in no rush to file charges because no evidence has emerged to suggest the gunman had accomplices, and there is no imminent threat of another attack.
Mateen was the target of a 10-month FBI investigation in 2013 and 2014, but the case was closed when a confidential informant, surveillance and eavesdropping did not turn up evidence of illegal activity. At that point Mateen's name was taken off the FBI Terrorist Screening Center's watchlist.
Had his name been in the watchlist when he bought the firearms he used in the shooting, an FBI agent working the case would have been notified.
Schiff said he told Comey during Tuesday's briefing that the FBI should change its procedure to ensure that an agent is notified when a former terrorism suspect buys a gun.
If the FBI can't make that change on its own, Schiff said, he will consider drafting legislation to do it.