U.S. District Judge James Mahan showed leniency Tuesday when he sentenced a retired computer technician to six months of home confinement for being duped into participating in an $893,400 international money laundering scheme.
Mahan placed Robert Kennard Jr., 61, who cares for his physically impaired wife, on five years of probation and ordered him to pay $647,500 in restitution. Kennard could have gotten up to 18 months in prison.
“Mr. Kennard, you’re guilty of being very gullible, very dumb,” Mahan said in handing down the sentence.
Earlier, Kennard’s wife, Rochelle, 60, who suffers from cerebral palsy and is legally blind, pleaded with Mahan to keep Kennard out of prison.
“I want you to know I love him dearly,” she told Mahan. “I depend on him so much. I can’t live alone.”
The couple are to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary on July 3.
Kennard, who retired from the Clark County School District in January under the weight of the federal investigation, did not address Mahan in court.
But his lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Raquel Lazo, told the judge that Kennard had a “big heart” and got suckered into the scheme.
She said Kennard was never in trouble with the law before and had an exemplary employment record at the school district. His former boss was among his courtroom supporters.
In court papers, Lazo said that Kennard was lured into the scheme by a woman who claimed to have a business partner in Nigeria who needed help.
Out of loneliness, he struck up what he thought was a romantic online relationship with the woman, Lazo wrote.
Kennard pleaded guilty in December to unlawfully transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars laundered through his credit union to financial accounts in China.
Lazo said Kennard never met his co-conspirators and did not know where the funds he transferred originated.
In court Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Frayn did not recommend a sentence for Kennard, opting to leave the decision to Mahan.
No other defendants have been charged in the case, and Frayn would not say after the sentencing whether the investigation is continuing.
Contact Jeff German at email@example.com or 702-380-8135.