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Judge sets Le-Nature’s restitution at $661M

PITTSBURGH — A federal judge in Pittsburgh says the former CEO of soft-drink maker Le-Nature is responsible for $661 million in restitution to investors, vendors and lenders who lost money in a massive fraud.

Senior U.S. District Judge Alan Bloch sentenced Gregory Podlucky on Thursday to 20 years in prison for masterminding a scheme to inflate the company’s revenues to attract additional financing. But Judge Bloch left open the matter of restitution.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review first reported on Judge Bloch’s restitution ruling, which was issued Monday.

Podlucky claimed a consortium of lenders led by Wachovia Bank weren’t victims of the $684 million scheme, saying they withdrew $258 million in bankruptcy claims for a loan not repaid after Le-Nature’s 2006 bankruptcy. But the judge agreed with prosecutors, who argued Wachovia, alone, withdrew a $23 million claim.

Podlucky and five other executives are expected to repay a fraction of the amount owed.


Appeals court orders new trial for scientist

NEW YORK — A new trial has been ordered for an Ivy League-educated scientist convicted of violating the Iran trade embargo.

Mahmoud Reza Banki was sent to a federal prison camp in California after his June 2010 conviction in New York.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ordered the new trial Monday.

The Tehran-born Banki was convicted of violating a trade embargo. It prohibits U.S. citizens from supplying goods, services or technology to Iran or its government.

The appeals court tossed out the trade embargo charge. It ordered a new trial on charges that he participated in an unlicensed money transfer business. False statement charges were upheld. A hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 9.

From wire dispatches and staff reports