Former ‘Boy Coffee King’ Convicted In Bank Fraud Case
MIAMI (AP) _ A 36-year-old man whose coffee empire once included Chase & Sanborn Co. shook his head and wept as a federal jury convicted him of 60 of 61 charges in what prosecutors called one of the biggest bank frauds in U.S. history.
A federal judge refused to grant bail to Colombian-born Alberto Duque, sending him Tuesday to a federal prison to await sentencing in the $85 million case.
Duque, who had been dubbed the ″Boy Coffee King,″ had pleaded for a $1 million bond, promising to remain in his Miami home.
″Please, help me,″ he said to U.S. District Judge James C. Paine. ″I’m not going to flee.″
Prosecutors argued that he might leave the country.
No sentencing date was set. Duque faces a total 288 years in prison and fines of $285,000 on the charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, and misapplication of the funds of City National Bank, which he controlled.
Jurors, who deliberated nearly four days before returning the verdicts, found him innocent on a single wire fraud count.
The government indictment said Duque’s coffee companies inflated inventory and faked financial statements to get millions in bank loans from about 20 institutions in Miami and New York.
Duque’s coffee empire, which also included the General Coffee Co. and the Colombian Coffee Co., collapsed in 1983.
Defense lawyer James Jay Hogan said in closing arguments that Duque didn’t engineer any loan schemes and wasn’t in charge of day-to-day operations at his company. Long before any of the alleged schemes, he already was a rich man with a Rolls-Royce, a private jet and an exclusive apartment, Hogan said.
″Alberto Duque had plenty of money. He had no reason whatsoever to steal, to hustle, to do anything of that kind,″ Hogan said. ″This man is foolish, careless and negligent, but he’s no criminal.″
Paine agreed to let jurors decide Duque’s fate ahead of five co-defendants, who include Duque’s younger brother, Victor. Hogan had argued that testimony from the others could hurt Alberto Duque.
Testimony in the case began in September.