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United States v. Capri

July 5, 2005


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge


Mary Capri pled guilty to a charge of mail fraud arising from her participation in a scheme to defraud Western United Life Assurance Company (WULA). The purpose of this Memorandum Opinion and Order is to summarize the reasons for the Court's imposition of a sentence of twenty-seven months imprisonment.


1. The Offense

Between December 2001 and April 2002, Capri worked as a mortgage broker and assisted co-defendant Scott Serfling to secure a loan for his company Serfin Trust LLC, for the purported development of a Ford automobile dealership in Gurnee, Illinois. As part of the effort to secure the loan, Capri provided WULA financial information that she knew or at least strongly suspected was fraudulent. This included false tax returns, financial statements, and bank statements concerning the borrower. In April 2002, WULA loaned Serfin Trust LLC $11,750,000, partly on the strength of the fraudulent information Capri had provided.

Capri herself received over $280,000 from the proceeds of the loan. She falsely represented to WULA that Geneva Lake Insurance, a company she had set up, had placed insurance on the dealership property, and she created phony documentation to substantiate her representation. Capri did this knowing that based on this false information, Geneva Lakes would receive $225,000 from the loan proceeds. Capri took this money and used it for her own purposes, including the purchase of a home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Capri received another $58,000 from the loan proceeds, representing a brokerage fee for her role in the purchase of the dealership property.

After the fraud was exposed, WULA took possession of the dealership property and sold it for $5,000,000. WULA suffered a loss of $6,750,000. Capri's co-defendant Scott Serfling has pled not guilty, and his case is set for trial in September of this year.

2. Capri's Family Circumstances

Capri is 34 years old and has four children. She told the probation officer that her mother physically abused her as a child. She contends her mother suffers from schizophrenia and receives disability benefits due to that condition; however, no evidence has been provided to substantiate the claim. Capri likewise contends that a number of her siblings suffer from this same mental illness; this likewise has not been verified.

Capri's oldest child, Brandon, is seventeen years old and receives Supplemental Security Income disability benefits. The report from the administrative law judge who found Brandon disabled reflects that he had been hospitalized for an "acute thought disorder with hallucinations" and had a history of hallucinations. Def. Ex. 5. The defense has provided a copy of a report from an emergency room visit documenting this assessment. Def. Ex. 7. The ALJ's report also states that a representative of a local health department reported a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and "possible psychotic changes"; that school records indicated possible ADHD and Asperger's disorder (a developmental disorder similar to autism); and that psychological testing was "suggestive of schizophrenia." Def. Ex. 5. The records supporting these assessments have not been provided to the Court. The ALJ made a finding that Brandon had severe ADHD and schizophrenia. Id. Though he had been in a special education program, Brandon was home-schooled by Capri prior to her March 2005 arrest on unrelated fraud charges. He is now in a special education program at a local high school and is living with his father, Alexander Alcarese.

Capri's second oldest child, Jordan, is also living with Alcarese, his father. Jordan is thirteen years old. There is no indication that he suffers from any mental, physical, or developmental disorder.

Capri's two younger children, Jonathan and Christian, both are or were living with their father, Capri's former husband John Rabine. Jordan, who is nine years old, was found by the Social Security Administration to be disabled. The SSA's findings reflect that he suffers from "pervasive developmental disorder with autistic features" and ADHD. Def. Ex. 6. Jonathan is in a special education program.

The youngest child, Christian, is seven years old. Following Capri's recent arrest, he went to live with his father, but Rabine reported that he could not handle taking care of both children, so Christian is now living with Capri's sister, Dorothea Gale. The defense contends that Gale suffers from schizoaffective disorder,*fn1 but there is nothing to verify this contention. Christian is described as a "special needs" child, but few details are provided, and the Court has been given no information regarding any psychiatric or other diagnosis.

Capri claimed to the probation officer that she had received counseling as a pre-teenager for depression and hearing voices and had attempted suicide when she was twelve or thirteen years old. There is no indication in the record, however, that Capri has the type of thought disorder characteristic of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders; auditory hallucinations can be a symptom of severe depression and other mood disorders. See Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders at 377 (4th ed. 1994) ("DSM-IV"). An October 1999 report from a psychiatrist with a county health department in Wisconsin reflects a diagnosis of "major depression with possible psychotic symptoms," namely auditory hallucinations reported by Capri. A psychologist with the same department who evaluated Capri in 2001 reflects that she had again reported hearing voices and claimed she had attempted suicide. The psychologist reported a diagnostic impression, based on interviews and psychological testing, of "major depression, recurrent, with psychotic features," and "personality disorder, not otherwise specified, with schizoid and narcissistic traits and avoidant features." The term "personality disorder" is used to describe pervasive patterns of behavior that deviate markedly from the ...

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