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Author of Consumer Fraud Guide Arrested

July 24, 1999

LOS ANGELES — A convicted con artist who wrote a book on consumer fraud and dedicated it to the Los Angeles federal judge who freed him on probation three times was arrested by the FBI Friday on charges of bilking a new victim out of $100,000.

Steven Robert Comisar, 38, was taken into custody after being indicted on eight counts of mail and wire fraud.

Since his earlier telemarketing fraud convictions in 1991 and 1994, Comisar has touted himself as a reformed con man and written a book, "America's Guide to Fraud Prevention," which he dedicated to U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real.

"You believed in me and gave me a chance," Comisar said in his dedication to Real. "For this, I will always be grateful and never break the law again."

Comisar pleaded guilty to telemarketing fraud in 1991 before Real, who placed him on five years' probation. In 1994, however, he was convicted in another telemarketing fraud case and sentenced by a different judge to 46 months in prison.

While Comisar still was behind bars, Real revoked and then reinstated his probation to coincide with his release from prison.

The judge, who has a reputation for being tough on most second offenders, gave Comisar a third break in 1998, when he was accused of forging records to show he had performed required community service. Real freed him on probation with a stern warning to stay out of trouble.

In the latest case, Comisar is accused of swindling a retired Iowa engineer who thought he was investing in foreign casinos and a TV sports quiz show. He faces a statutory maximum of 80 years in prison if he is convicted on all charges.

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