LeNature's defendants sentenced

Brian Bowling
| Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012

Two defendants in the LeNature's Inc. fraud case made deals that shaved more than a decade off their prison sentences, so they don't deserve further leniency, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Former chief operating officer Jonathan Podlucky, 37, of Hempfield, and Donald Pollinger, 68, a business associate from Charlotte, pleaded guilty to one count each of bank fraud in May in connection with the scam masterminded by Podlucky's brother that bilked banks and other investors out of nearly $900 million. Gregory Podlucky, 51, is serving a 20-year sentence on charges of bank, wire and mail fraud, and tax evasion.

"I did something very bad and against the law," Pollinger told U.S. District Judge Alan Bloch. "I'm just ashamed of that."

Other than answering questions, Podlucky didn't speak during the proceeding at U.S. District Court, Downtown.

The plea deals capped their sentences at five years and allowed Bloch to consider help they gave to federal investigators when he determined their sentences.

Both men played key roles in the fraud that destroyed the Latrobe bottling company, put its employees out of work and robbed investors, Bloch said.

"The court would not have accepted a sentence of five years in the first place had the defendant not been cooperating with the government," Bloch said in each case.

Charles Porter Jr., Jonathan Podlucky's attorney, told the judge that more than two dozen relatives and friends who showed up yesterday to support his client demonstrated that those who know him best believe in his character, and that he was simply caught in his brother's scheme.

"You didn't see these people (here) for Greg," he said. "You didn't get letters from these people for Greg."

Bloch said sentencing either man to less than five years would send the wrong message to others tempted to commit large frauds. He also sentenced both defendants to three years of probation and ordered them to pay $661 million in restitution. He revoked both men's bond and ordered federal marshals to take them into custody.

Porter said the plea agreement recognized that standard sentencing guidelines -- which would have given Jonathan Podlucky at least 15 years in prison -- were too harsh considering the limited role he had in the fraud.

"Given Jonathan's involvement, or lack thereof, in this case, we thought a sentence of less than five years was appropriate," Porter said.

Martin Dietz, Pollinger's attorney, declined to comment after the hearing.

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