NEW YORK (AP / WCBS 880) – The former brother-in-law of a Democratic fundraiser imprisoned for cheating banks out of nearly $300 million dollars pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge, saying he regretted not confronting his relative when he was asked to do things that felt “wrong and weird.”
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Shahin Kashanchi, 48, of Telluride, Colo., entered the bank larceny plea in Manhattan.
Kashanchi told a federal magistrate judge that he held Hassan Nemazee in the highest regard until his August 2009 arrest.
“I believed his public persona, that Hassan Nemazee was an extremely successful and solvent businessman who was also a close adviser to some of our country’s leading political figures,” Kashanchi said.
Sabrina Shroff, Kashanchi’s lawyer, said her client was heartbroken.
“Essentially, he’s pleading guilty to having the wrong brother-in-law. And not questioning him,” she said.
As part of the plea agreement, Kashanchi is to pay $75,000 in restitution. He could serve up to one year in federal prison. His sentencing date has not yet been set.
Nemazee was sentenced in July 2010 to 12 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to bank fraud charges, admitting that he defrauded banks of $292 million by using fake collateral.
Authorities said Nemazee donated some of the stolen money to politicians, including President Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Al Gore. Nemazee was the national finance chairman for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Kashanchi said he became suspicious in August 2009 when Nemazee asked him to create account statements that were outside of the usual quarterly period.
“It felt wrong and weird,” Kashanchi said. “I was suspicious that Hassan may be using me to do something illegal but because of his stellar reputation and the fact he was connected to the most influential people, I did not act on my suspicions.”
He added: “I ought to have confronted Hassan with my suspicions and should not have continued to give him the further assistance that I gave him. I deeply regret doing so.”
Kashanchi said he had prepared account statements for Nemazee since the late 1990s and thought they were his true financial assets. “Hassan Nemazee never told me otherwise,” he said.
Shroff said the marriage between Nemazee and his wife of 32 years ended last week.
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