PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – An East Greenwich woman who bilked friends and family out of $4.8 million was sentenced to 8 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution.
U.S. District Chief Judge John McConnell called the range of fraud by Monique Brady “simply beyond belief” as he handed down his sentence during a lengthy hearing at federal court in Providence.
Before learning her fate Brady, 45, of East Greenwich, listened as five people who lost money in her property scheme made victim impact statements.
Robert Roth – who said the $250,000 he thought he was investing in her company vanished – told the judge, “Monique is a predator.”
“She is calculating and sets up people once she gains their trust,” Roth said. “She will lie to everyone.”
Prosecutors say there were 23 victims in all. A common theme among all of them, was how Brady had earned their trust, many of them who she preyed on were close friends and family.
Linda Richard told the court she lost her parent’s life savings to Brady, who knew she was caring for her quadriplegic husband. The money she thought she was investing with Brady was to be used for long-term care for her parents who are suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“I trusted Monique not only with my savings …. but I also handed my friendship over to her,” Richard said. “Like the others she robbed, I fell for it.”
Each of the victims said they felt shame and embarrassment for falling for Brady’s “deception,” but McConnell took time from his prepared remarks to address the victims in the courtroom.
“You have nothing to feel embarrassed about,” he said. “You showed me today a great example of humanity.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Vilker asked McConnell to sentence Brady to 10 years in prison.
“Over and over again I try to find the right adjective for this conduct, and I can’t do it,” Vilker said. “She knew full well that some of her victims had very little money when she stole as much of it as possible.”
Calling the scope of the scheme “breathtaking,” Vilker said Brady would lure victims whose trust she had gained into investing into property rehabilitation projects. In all she claimed to take on 171 properties, when 98 of them were fictitious.
Vilker said the victims will likely never see any of their money again because the only assets Brady has come from the sale of her sprawling East Greenwich home. But with the mortgage on the property, and her ex-husband’s claim to half the proceeds, Vilker said there is only $38,000 left. He said the only thing the victims can get at this point is Brady’s punishment.
He also urged McConnell to consider deterrence, both to try and thwart Brady from thinking about defrauding people again, and also to send a message to society that crimes like this deserve to be dealt with severely.
“The public is paying close attention to this case,” he said.
Brady’s attorney Joanne Daley said her client was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which explains – but not excuses – her devious actions.
“Monique Brady knows what she has done, and the havoc she has wreaked,” Daley said. “She wants to make amends not to just victims in this case but to her family, she is asking this court to give her that opportunity.”
Dressed in all black, Brady was brought into – and left – the courtroom in leg irons and handcuffs. The seats were packed with family members as well as victims and their supporters.
Her ex-husband Thomas Brady – a Warwick firefighter – and three of her children were there and listened as Brady sobbed as she read a letter, apologizing for her “deep and wicked” actions.
“I really am sorry,” she said. “I hardly recognized myself … I was selfish and greedy and reckless.”
Brady has claimed a searing gambling addiction fueled her fraud scheme, but McConnell said her motivation was to fund a “lavish lifestyle.”
He chastised the defendant for her actions when the net of the federal investigation was tightening around her. Prosecutors said Brady urged people to destroy documents to hamper the investigation, and even tried to get state prosecutors to go after the victims in an effort to scramble the case.
Brady has been behind bars since her arrest last year. Prosecutors learned Brady bought a one-way ticket to Vietnam when she learned her arrest was imminent, and was planning on going to the country with her family court attorney, Kevin Heitke, with whom she was having an affair.
Brady claimed she was going to visit an ailing grandmother, who has since died.
McConnell did not buy the excuse and agreed with prosecutors that Brady was attempting to flee. Because of that, he rejected her request to be released while she awaited her prison assignment.
But McConnell did say he would ask the Federal Bureau of Prisons to consider assigning Brady to a facility in Danbury Connecticut so she would be close to her children.
“It is an unbelievably tragic day for everyone,” McConnell said.
He also ordered Brady to pay restitution and to register on casino “self-exclusion” lists to try and prevent her from gambling. She will be on three years probation when she is released from prison.
Brady pleaded guilty in July to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and obstructing an IRS investigation. The charge of aggravated identity theft comes with a mandatory minimum of two years in prison.
Outside court, several victims said they didn’t buy her apology and thought the mental health diagnosis was a ploy to try and gain leniency from the judge.
Roth told reporters he’s “moving on” when asked if he can ever forgive Brady.
“It’s a sad day and I just felt terrible for everyone and her family,” Roth said.
Kim Savastano said she was satisfied with the 8-year sentence but added there is no prison time that would make up “for the hurt that we all feel.”
“Our families grew up together. My daughter and their daughters were best friends and I think that’s what’s so tough,” she said. “The lies and the betrayal [are] very difficult.”
U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Aaron Weisman called the sentence “completely justified.”
“What we heard today was really heartbreaking and reprehensible and I want to applaud the courage of those victims its simply incredible,” Weisman said.
Vilker called this case “a particularly troubling and reprehensible” because of the relationships the victims had to the defendant.
“They were some of her best friends and loved ones,” he said. “She just really exploited their trust.”