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Texan Gets Five Years|for $3M Art Fraud

DALLAS (CN) - A Texan was sentenced Tuesday to five years in federal prison for a $3 million art fraud, and his wife to five years probation.

Eugenio D. Leo, 31, also was ordered to pay $3.4 million in restitution.

His wife, Jody L. Meyer, 46, was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $431,000 in restitution.

Leo pleaded guilty in May to wire fraud and Meyer pleaded guilty mail fraud.

Leo, formerly of Allen, Texas, worked as a commodities broker in 2004 at Richardson-based Compass Financial.

Prosecutors said he induced two victims, K.P. and L.P., to invest money in short-term loans to museums in Europe. The loans were to be secured by artwork worth significantly more than the loan value. Leo asked the victims to provide power of attorney so he could make the arrangements, prosecutors said.

But instead of making the loans, Leo bought art with the money and sold it to the victims at a much higher price, never disclosing that he was the middleman.

Then, aided and abetted by Meyer, Leo claimed he owned the art so he could get $300,000 in loans from Art Capital Group, with the art as collateral.

"He used his authority under a power of attorney from the victim to act contrary to the victim's instructions, contrary to the victim's best interest and for his own personal benefit," prosecutors said in a statement. "Leo and Meyer defrauded K.P. and L.P. of more than $3 million."

Leo must report to prison on Nov. 28.

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