Nikesh patel

Indian American businessman Nikesh Patel was called by U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras a “diabolical genius” for the scale and brazenness of his fraud. (representational image/Pixabay)

CHICAGO — A Florida businessman who tried to flee to South America after pleading guilty to a $179 million fraud scheme has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

At his sentencing March 6 in Chicago, U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras called Indian American Nikesh Patel a “diabolical genius” for the scale and brazenness of his fraud.

Days before a January sentencing date, FBI agents arrested the 34-year-old in Florida trying to board a private jet to Ecuador. Patel was free on bond, ostensibly to help recover victims' money.

Prosecutors say Patel launched new scams in 2017 while awaiting sentencing, spending $30,000 on his infant daughter's birthday and $28,000 on a ski trip.

Patel pleaded guilty in 2016 to selling bogus loans to a Wisconsin investment firm. The fraud also hurt several Chicago-area school districts financially.

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