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Ex-cop sentenced to 15 months in federal prison Print
Saturday, April 7, 2007
He helped try to fraudulently collect $23 million debt.

By Jameson Cook - Macomb Daily
 
A former Eastpointe police officer will spend 15 months in federal prison for helping his boss try to collect a $23-million debt owed by the government of Sierre Leone.Christopher Belan, 43, of Macomb Township, also was ordered Thursday by U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook to help pay $49,382 in restitution to the victim and spend three years on probation after his release.

Belan previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy for assisting co-defendant Pasquale John DiPofi, 36, owner of Executive Outcome in Mount Clemens, in attempting to collect the debt that was owed to foreign companies with a similar name, Executive Outcomes, South Africa, and Executive Outcomes, Panama, in 2001 and 2002, according to federal officials. Belan worked at DiPofi's security company.

Third parties Michael Grunberg of London and Paris and Audax Trading Limited in Great Britain were victimized and will collect the restitution, according to federal officials.

The fraud was discovered before any of the debt was paid to DiPofi's company.

Belan's sentence is below what was recommended in the plea agreement approved last October, which recommended 30 to 37 months.

U.S. District Attorney spokeswoman Gina Balaya said she did not know why the lower sentence was issued.

Belan's defense attorney, Brian Legghio, could not be reached for comment Friday.

The plea agreement says that Belan or his attorney would be able to argue for a "downward departure" from the guidelines based on a claim that, "due to the disparity between the intended loss amount and the actual loss, the offense level 'substantially overstates the seriousness of the offense,''' according to a 2004 federal ruling.

The maximum penalty for the charge was five years in prison, plus five years' probation and a $250,000 fine.

Belan, who resigned from the police force when the allegations arose, will be given a date to report to federal custody, or will have to report by July 8, Balaya said.

DiPofi, a.k.a. John Bouchard, whose company protected celebrities and professional athletes, was sentenced March 29 in federal court to 40 months in prison and three additional years of probation. He must report by July 2 if he is not given a reporting date.

Both men will be responsible for the restitution, which was reduced by about $3,000 from DiPofi's sentence.

Because of the nearly identical names between DiPofi's company and the foreign firms, Audax mistakenly sought to represent DiPofi's company to collect the money. DiPofi and Belan created fake documents to erroneously show to Audax and Sierre Leone that it was the company that had supplied the services, according to federal officials.

In August and September 2002, DiPofi and Belan "caused threatening communications to be sent" to Grunberg in Paris, federal officials said. Grunberg was representing the legitimate recipients of the debt.

Grunberg received fax, phone and mail communication from the defendants, according to an FBI affidavit.

One fax said, "In conclusion, you arrogant thief, it is suggested that you have greatly underestimated your adversaries. You should be very concerned."

Grunberg in the mail received photographs of the interior and exterior of two of his homes. Later the same day, a caller later told Grunberg, "I have been with you for two months and it will be swift and you won't know anything about it."

Sierre Leone had paid $2.1 million to the proper recipients, as of last October, federal officials said.

The case was investigated by the IRS and FBI.

Ex-cop sentenced to 15 months in federal prison

# He helped try to fraudulently collect $23 million debt.

By Jameson Cook

Macomb Daily Staff Writer

A former Eastpointe police officer will spend 15 months in federal prison for helping his boss try to collect a $23-million debt owed by the government of Sierre Leone.

Christopher Belan, 43, of Macomb Township, also was ordered Thursday by U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook to help pay $49,382 in restitution to the victim and spend three years on probation after his release.

Belan previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy for assisting co-defendant Pasquale John DiPofi, 36, owner of Executive Outcome in Mount Clemens, in attempting to collect the debt that was owed to foreign companies with a similar name, Executive Outcomes, South

See SCAM, Page 7A

Africa, and Executive Outcomes, Panama, in 2001 and 2002, according to federal officials. Belan worked at DiPofi's security company.

Third parties Michael Grunberg of London and Paris and Audax Trading Limited in Great Britain were victimized and will collect the restitution, according to federal officials.

The fraud was discovered before any of the debt was paid to DiPofi's company.

Belan's sentence is below what was recommended in the plea agreement approved last October, which recommended 30 to 37 months.

U.S. District Attorney spokeswoman Gina Balaya said she did not know why the lower sentence was issued.

Belan's defense attorney, Brian Legghio, could not be reached for comment Friday.

The plea agreement says that Belan or his attorney would be able to argue for a "downward departure" from the guidelines based on a claim that, "due to the disparity between the intended loss amount and the actual loss, the offense level 'substantially overstates the seriousness of the offense,''' according to a 2004 federal ruling.

The maximum penalty for the charge was five years in prison, plus five years' probation and a $250,000 fine.

Belan, who resigned from the police force when the allegations arose, will be given a date to report to federal custody, or will have to report by July 8, Balaya said.

DiPofi, a.k.a. John Bouchard, whose company protected celebrities and professional athletes, was sentenced March 29 in federal court to 40 months in prison and three additional years of probation. He must report by July 2 if he is not given a reporting date.

Both men will be responsible for the restitution, which was reduced by about $3,000 from DiPofi's sentence.

Because of the nearly identical names between DiPofi's company and the foreign firms, Audax mistakenly sought to represent DiPofi's company to collect the money. DiPofi and Belan created fake documents to erroneously show to Audax and Sierre Leone that it was the company that had supplied the services, according to federal officials.

In August and September 2002, DiPofi and Belan "caused threatening communications to be sent" to Grunberg in Paris, federal officials said. Grunberg was representing the legitimate recipients of the debt.

Grunberg received fax, phone and mail communication from the defendants, according to an FBI affidavit.

One fax said, "In conclusion, you arrogant thief, it is suggested that you have greatly underestimated your adversaries. You should be very concerned."

Grunberg in the mail received photographs of the interior and exterior of two of his homes. Later the same day, a caller later told Grunberg, "I have been with you for two months and it will be swift and you won't know anything about it."

Sierre Leone had paid $2.1 million to the proper recipients, as of last October, federal officials said.

The case was investigated by the IRS and FBI.
 
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