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Duke & Co. Ex-Chairman Sentenced

SAMUEL MAULLMay 28, 2002

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NEW YORK (AP) _ The former chairman of the now-defunct Duke & Co. securities firm was sentenced Tuesday to 22 1/2 years in prison for running a crooked company that cheated investors out of $650 million.

Victor Wang, 38, of Sarasota, Fla., was sentenced on his August 1999 guilty plea to state charges of enterprise corruption. He must serve 7 1/2 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.

Wang stayed out of jail for the past 2 1/2 years because he agreed to cooperate, but Assistant District Attorney Arthur Middlemiss said he refused to help investigators and should get a stiff sentence.

Calling the defendant an ``arrogant″ and ``utterly unrepentant″ liar, Middlemiss told state Supreme Court Justice William Wetzel: ``Wang is the reason Duke’s investors lost millions of dollars while he grew rich and flaunted his lifestyle to his brokers to encourage them to talk faster, to sell more falsely priced stock, to lie, to cheat, to steal in his name.″

Wang’s lawyer, Lawrence Carra, said, ``Needless to say, we took exception to those statements. He admitted his culpability and expressed genuine remorse. He said he was very sorry for what he had done.″

Wang, now in state custody, has also pleaded guilty to securities crimes in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. Carra said he expects his client to be sentenced there on Sept. 20 to about 10 years.

The conditions of Wang’s relative freedom for the past 2 1/2 years, set by federal authorities, required him to wear an electronic bracelet and remain in his Florida home between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. daily.

Wang is currently jailed in New York.

And as part of his federal plea agreement, Wang forfeited $650,000 _ most of it from offshore accounts _ in 1999, Carra said. He said the state got no money from Wang.

Wang was chairman of Duke, a firm he purchased, from 1993 until April 1998. The firm specialized in selling the securities of small high-technology companies through initial public offerings.

``Victor Wang masterminded the Duke operation, propelling it forward by the sheer force of his personality and greed,″ Middlemiss told the judge.

The prosecutor said Wang trained his underlings to sell stocks that he manipulated and then ``unleashed those men on an unsuspecting public.″

A 109-count indictment filed in May 1999 by the Manhattan district attorney’s office said Wang and many of his employees ran Duke as a criminal operation designed to steal from customers.

The indictment charged that Duke’s brokers colluded with salesmen at other firms to inflate the IPO prices of certain companies’ stocks and keep them artificially high.

Duke brokers and their favored investors, who prosecutors said numbered about two dozen, made profits by selling the stocks high while those who were not in on the price manipulation schemes lost money when prices plunged.

A total of 25 people pleaded guilty or were convicted after trial in connection with crimes at Duke. They received sentences that ranged from probation to six to 18 years in prison.

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