Marietta man gets 20 years in prison
by Marcus E. Howard
mhoward@mdjonline.com
February 19, 2010 01:00 AM | 4230 views | 2 2 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Frank Constantino listens during his sentencing hearing on Thursday.<br>Photo by Thinh D. Nguyen
Frank Constantino listens during his sentencing hearing on Thursday.
Photo by Thinh D. Nguyen
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MARIETTA - A Marietta man convicted of using investment schemes to take more than $2 million from a woman in her 80s was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison followed by 20 years of probation

However, Cobb Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs said she will consider ending 65-year-old Frank Constantino's probation if $2.5 million in restitution is paid to victim (Jewell) Judy Cox of Marietta.

Of the $2.5 million, Constantino must immediately pay $1 million and $1.5 million within 90 days of his release from prison.

He testified that he has $6 million, Grubbs said after she sentenced Constantino.

"Therefore he certainly has the resources to pay the restitution," she said.

"A message has got to be sent," Grubbs said. "This is a very serious crime."

On Feb. 3, jurors found Constantino guilty of three counts of theft by taking, three counts of exploitation of an elder person, six counts of violating the Georgia Securities Act and one count of violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. They were deadlocked on 16 other counts of theft and violations.

Cox said she believed Constantino received the sentencing that he deserved, though she expressed reservations about whether she would get all of her money back.

"It was a sad day when I met Frank Constantino," Cox said. "He said he had a company here that paid good interests - then CDs weren't paying much - so I bought some of that. Then he said he owned a wonderful thing of building villas in Belize; that he was going to help me with my money and put it in Belize so that we could build a home for people with disabilities."

Cox's 56-year-old son, Walter Kenneth Cox, lives with her and has Down syndrome.

Cox, who said she used to work for the Defense Department, said she and her late husband, Sonny Cox, a former CSX railroad company agent, had managed their money carefully over the years and invested in real estate property on the side to amass their small fortune.

"She lived like a pauper her entire life to ensure that she had money to take care of her special needs child," Cox's great nephew, Barry Cranfill, 47, of east Cobb, said. "That money was amassed, cared for and nurtured all these years. It has now been absconded with and she's scared to death that she doesn't have the money. Of course, we're going to take care of our family, there's no question there."

Constantino's lawyer, Francisco J. Marquez of Roswell, had argued that his client should only have been allowed to pay $700,000 in restitution to Cox, considering his old age. He also had one of Constantino's investors, Atlanta lawyer Robert Susko, testify that an imprisoned Constantino won't help investment victims.

"The sooner he's out, the better chance that anybody - including myself who lost money down in Belize - will have a chance at being reimbursed," Susko testified. He estimated that he lost $400,000 in his financial dealings with Constantino, who is eligible for parole.

As his sentence was handed down, Constantino stared straight ahead from his seat next to his lawyers. He was brought into the courtroom wearing shackles and a gray jail jumpsuit. The entire scene was a stark contrast to the lavish lifestyle prosecutors described he lived while he bilked investors out of their earnings.

Constantino dropped about $20,000 on a collection of cuckoo clocks, Assistant District Attorney Chris Timmons said. A certified fraud examiner with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation testified on behalf of the prosecution that Constantino spent at least $500,000 of investors' money between February 2002 and December 2004.

"He's a person who on the outside tends to be 'Mr. Big Time' - lots of corporations, multinational sophisticated investments," Timmons said. "But, as the court saw, what he does is take money from people, after convincing them that he's a powerful person, and then spends it on his lavish lifestyle."

According to his indictment, "Constantino acted as a financial and estate planner for Cox and convinced her to provide him with United States currency in excess of $2 million. Constantino was to invest that currency in certain business ventures related to Belize, a country located in Central America. (Constantino) insisted that these investments were safe, would generate large returns and that (Constantino) would also be investing in these business ventures." ... Constantino took "at least a portion of the funds he received from Judy Cox for his own personal use or for the use of other persons."

The indictment also states Constantino was not registered to sell securities in Georgia, and was actually legally prohibited from selling securities during some of the times he made the sale. Allegations date back to at least 2002.
Comments
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otter357
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February 19, 2010
I don't know what it means, but I notice that Frank Constantino got 20 years in prison and 20 years probation for fraud, and four months ago

Karif Davis and Laquintin Dunnigan got 20 years for the manslaughter (of Thurman Davis) armed robbery and aggravated assault.
Larry Fleming
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February 19, 2010
I think the judge was fair with her sentence. There were enough counts to never let him out. This way he has an opportunity to not spend the rest of his life in prison, if he repays the money. I pray for all the victims and for Frank, there is still much to heal.
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