- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A Louisville businessman was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay $108 million in restitution for a scheme a federal judge described as “eye popping.”

According to prosecutors, Anthony Huff bribed officials to obtain loans and looted companies in order to buy private jets, luxury cars, jewelry, designer clothing and trips.

The Courier-Journal reports (http://cjky.it/1AUuRn5) the 53-year-old Huff’s list of crimes includes tax offenses, bribery of bank officials, and defrauding insurance regulators and an investment bank.

Originally from Caneyville, Huff worked in Louisville for years. In 1996, his North American Trucking Association provided vehicles to University of Louisville star Samaki Walker, eventually landing the school on two years’ probation by the NCAA.

Two years later, the state of Kentucky revoked Huff’s insurance license for stealing a $113,000 insurance premium. In 2003, he pleaded guilty in federal court in Louisville to mail fraud for spending company money on himself and his family.

The felony conviction forced him to operate behind the scenes, according to court records. From 2008 to 2010 Huff controlled a Tampa-based company called O2HR through front men. The company handled payroll, benefits and other back-office functions for businesses. Prosecutors say Huff spent $53 million of his clients’ money on his personal investments and business ventures as well as on personal expenses for himself and his family.

Huff also paid more than $400,000 in bribes to officers of the now-defunct Park Avenue Bank in New York in exchange for favors. Huff then helped those officers orchestrate a series of fraudulent transactions to conceal the bank’s indebtedness by making it look like the bank had received $6.5 million. Two officials, including the bank’s former CEO, have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Huff has previously been the subject of civil judgments totaling nearly $35 million in Florida and Washington state.

In urging his incarceration, prosecutors said Huff has shown he would commit fraud again if given the opportunity.

U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of New York sentenced Huff on Thursday.

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com

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