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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review

Purported 'Former' Con Man Is Sentenced Anew

December 07, 1999

LOS ANGELES — A supposedly reformed career con artist who was featured on several TV news shows talking about how to avoid being a victim of consumer fraud was sentenced Monday to 33 months in federal prison for bilking an Iowa man out of $125,000.

Steven Robert Comisar, who went by the name Brett Champion and wrote a book called "America's Guide to Fraud Prevention," also was ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution to his victim.

U.S. District Judge Edward M. Rafeedie ordered Comisar, 38, not to pose as a consumer fraud expert once he is released from prison.

Comisar pleaded guilty in August to four counts each of mail fraud and wire fraud before Rafeedie, who took the case after U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real recused himself.

Comisar had dedicated his book to Real, who presided over his previous fraud cases and had sentenced him to probation three times. Real was still supervising Comisar's probation at the time of the latest offense.

U.S. District Judge William J. Rea is expected to hold a probation violation hearing in the coming weeks, which could get Comisar even more time behind bars.

Monday's sentence stemmed from a scheme in which Comisar posed as "David Crane" of the "Beverly Hills Investment Group" in late 1997 and early 1998 to swindle an Iowa engineer out of $125,000, according to the government.

He offered the victim investment opportunities in foreign casinos and a TV sports quiz show supposedly linked to football great Joe Namath. Comisar returned $25,000 of the money after questions were raised.

Representing himself as a reformed con artist, Comisar has appeared on several television programs as Champion and offered advice on how to beat fraud schemes.

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