Lou Pearlman sentenced to 25 Years in the slammer

Lou Pearlman, the mastermind behind boy bands N’SYNC and the Backstreet Boys, was  sentenced to 25 years in prison today for embezzling more than $300 million out of investors and conspiracy.

Pearlman went on the run in early 2007, only to be tracked down by feds five months later in Bali, Indonesia. At the time, he was using the fake name, A. Incognito Johnson.

Besides shepherding boy groups during his heyday of the late 90s, Pearlman also claimed to own an $80 million airplane-charter business, Trans Continental Airlines that existed in name only.

In a November 2007, the 53-year-old former pop mogul was reported to have been selling Trans Con Air stock. The annual dividend payouts were 10 percent, and eventually Pearlman began offering investors a chance to participate in Trans Con Air’s “federally insured” employee stock-ownership plan.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Pearlman pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy, one count of money laundering, and one count of making a false claim in a bankruptcy. Though the charges carry a maximum 25-year prison sentence, the judge offered Pearlman a deal.

“I’m most concerned for the investors, even more so than the institutions,” Senior U.S. District Judge G. Kendall Sharp said, before offering Pearlman a month off his sentence for every $1 million he gives back to the conned investors.

If Pearlman manages to pony up the entire $300 million, he’ll go free. The courtroom was reportedly full of disgruntled investors.

“Mr. Pearlman did live large, if you will, but judge, he was in the entertainment business,” Pearlman’s attorney, Fletcher Peacock offered.

“I’m truly sorry, your honor,” Pearlman wrote in a brief statement, ” to all the people who have been hurt by my actions.”

Pearlman’s decision to hop into the pop arena began in the late 80s, after one of his charter planes flew New Kids on the Block to several concerts.  He later found out the mega-group grossed more than $100 million a year. Pearlman- a plump, smiling man- soon placed an ad in Orlando Sentinel looking for boys.

Pearlman became a star executive in Orlando; His bands, worldwide. But in 1997, allegations arose that Pearlman was also a possible pedophile. In the Vanity Fair piece, Denise McLean, the mother of Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter,  said “For a while Nick loved going over to Lou’s house. All of a sudden it appeared there was a flip at some point. Then we heard from the Carter camp that there was some kind of inappropriate behavior. It was just odd. I can just say there were odd events that took place.”

For now though, Pearlman has obviously put the past behind him.

“I think truly, in Mr. Pearlman’s mind, he always meant to make good on his obligations,” says Peacock.

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~ by Rodolfo Oliveira on May 23, 2008.

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