Loan Fraudster Can't Get Out Of Prison Due To Pandemic

By Bill Wichert
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Law360 (May 22, 2020, 3:56 PM EDT) -- A New Jersey federal judge on Friday refused to release an ex-president of a staffing agency from prison due to the coronavirus pandemic as he serves time for defrauding a lender out of more than $400,000, saying he didn't follow the requisite administrative process through the Bureau of Prisons.

More than a year after sentencing him to a three-year prison term on a wire fraud charge, U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb denied Jeremy Hare's motion for compassionate release under the First Step Act. Citing his age and health, the 49-year-old Hare claimed he was at risk of serious illness or death if exposed to the novel coronavirus while behind bars.

The judge said she may only grant such a motion "if it was filed 'after the defendant has fully exhausted all administrative rights to appeal a failure of the Bureau of Prisons to bring a motion on the defendant's behalf' or after 30 days have passed 'from the receipt of such a request by the warden of the defendant's facility, whichever is earlier.'"

Although Hare said he "sought administrative review under the [First Step Act]," records indicate he requested a transfer to home confinement under the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, according to the judge.

"That is a separate remedy than the one sought here," the judge said in her written opinion. "Because defendant has not exhausted his administrative remedies, this court may not consider the merits of his motion at this time, and his motion will be denied."

Hare, the onetime president and managing member of Apollo Search Partners LLC, had the business enter into a financing agreement with a commercial finance lending company in June 2017, prosecutors said.

To get funding from the lender for payroll and other obligations, Apollo provided invoices and time cards for each worker whom the business staffed with a client, prosecutors said.

Between June 20 and Aug. 15, 2017, Hare sent more than 15 invoices to the lender and, as a result, the lender provided more than $400,000 to Apollo, prosecutors said. But the agency never staffed most of the workers listed on the invoices and the time sheets included hours that were not worked, prosecutors said.

After pleading guilty in September 2018, Hare was sentenced in April 2019 to 36 months in prison. Judge Bumb also ordered him to serve three years of supervised release and pay more than $400,000 in restitution.

Hare is scheduled to be released in December 2021, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.

In seeking compassionate release under the First Step Act — which requires showing "extraordinary and compelling" reasons — Hare said in April that he "suffers from an elevated [A1C], which is a precursor to diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma."

Those conditions are "all risk factors for COVID-19 combined with the growing coronavirus pandemic, provide an extraordinary and compelling basis for sentence reduction," according to Hare's April 22 brief.

Although Judge Bumb declined to weigh the merits of Hare's motion in light of the procedural shortcomings, she cast doubt on his application in a footnote.

"Even if this court were to waive the statutory exhaustion requirement, this court finds that defendant has not set forth any compelling reasons to do so," the judge said.

Hare's attorney, Ronald L. Greenblatt of Greenblatt Pierce Funt & Flores LLC, told Law360 on Friday, "While we are disappointed in the decision, we understand it and will continue to fight for Mr. Hare's safety."

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew D. Kogan.

Hare is represented by Ronald L. Greenblatt of Greenblatt Pierce Funt & Flores LLC.

The case is USA v. Hare, case number 1:18-cr-00588, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

--Editing by Stephen Berg.

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