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Court Overturns Phar-Mor Sentence

October 22, 1997

CINCINNATI (AP) _ A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the 20-year prison sentence given to the founder of the Phar-Mor Inc. drugstore chain for embezzling millions of dollars was improperly administered, and ordered that he be resentenced.

Michael Monus, 49, was sentenced in 1995 to 19 years and seven months in prison and fined $1 million for masterminding a $1 billion corporate fraud that plunged the Youngstown-based discount drugstore chain into bankruptcy protection.

US. District Judge George White of Cleveland rejected defense arguments to diminish the amount of damage caused by the fraud and settled on a sentencing guideline that was much closer to what prosecutors had sought.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that White failed to adequately document the reasons he used to arrive at the sentence and ordered the judge to resentence Monus.

Monus was convicted on all charges: 96 counts of interstate transportation of stolen property, five counts of wire fraud, two counts each of bank fraud, mail fraud, and filing false income tax returns, and single counts of obstruction of justice and conspiracy.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Sammon, who prosecuted the case, said Tuesday night that he had not read the opinion and could not comment.

Monus’ attorney, Peter D. Goldberger of Ardmore, Pa., was not home and could not be reached for comment.

Prosecutors said Monus, aided by former Chief Financial Officer Patrick Finn and Vice President Jeffrey Walley, embezzled millions of dollars to finance a lavish personal lifestyle and prop up the World Basketball League, Monus’ failed minor-league sports venture. Finn and Walley pleaded guilty to fraud and tax charges and testified against Monus.

Phar-Mor operates more than 100 stores in 18 states. It emerged from bankruptcy protection in 1995.

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