John Tyler Hancock VI, the former Newport Beach businessman who lived in high style while spending $2.5 million that he ostensibly borrowed for his business, was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for swindling his lenders.
Hancock, at times in tears, sought a delay in the sentencing, telling a federal judge that his new business plans could enable him to make enough money to pay back the lenders.
But Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez rejected the plea, saying that Hancock had shown that he believed "the ends justify whatever means are necessary. . . . The community needs a respite from his onslaught," Fernandez said.
Hancock, 41, borrowed the money from four lending institutions between 1983 and 1985, saying he needed it to purchase equipment for his now-defunct American Communications Network of Newport Beach, a telephone answering service.
But he made few loan payments and after being forced into bankruptcy in 1985 journeyed to Aspen, Colo., and used the money to finance a posh life style. He entertained lavishly and regularly appeared in the society columns. In January, 1987, he invited 300 guests to a 40th birthday party he threw for himself.
At his sentencing in federal court in Los Angeles, Hancock told Fernandez that his life has been destroyed and that he has learned his lesson.
"It appears I've caused a great problems and pain for a lot of people. I'm very remorseful," Hancock said.
But the judge was not swayed by Hancock's appeal.
'A Massive Fraud'
"Mr. Hancock has engaged in a massive fraud on lending institutions. The court is informed he is an imaginative and hard-working entrepreneur. The court doesn't doubt that. Unfortunately, the information the court has before it also indicates he is a person who feels the ends justify whatever means are necessary to achieve it," Fernandez said.
"If he can't do it by being honest, he'll do it by being dishonest," Fernandez said.
The judge ordered Hancock to repay the money as a condition of his probation, which will follow his prison term.
In January, Hancock pleaded guilty to charges that he diverted $2.5 million he borrowed from First National Bank of Blue Island in Illinois, General Electric Credit Corp. in Anaheim, and Citibank Industrial Credit and ITT Credit Finance Co.
After moving to Aspen, Hancock operated a business called Aspen Lifestyles Inc. which claimed to provide consulting services to the "elite." Law enforcement authorities in Colorado said they had no idea of what sort of business Hancock conducted.
Hancock also claimed to be a direct descendant of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
While claiming to be socially well-connected, Hancock had a checkered past. In 1977, he was was convicted of separate assault and price-fixing charges.