Chief in $800M fraud gets 20 years prison

MIAMI (AP) — The mastermind of an $800 million insurance scam that stands as one of the largest fraud schemes in Florida history has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

A federal judge imposed the hearing Friday on Joel Steinger, former chief of Fort Lauderdale-based Mutual Benefits Corp. Steinger pleaded guilty in March to mail and wire fraud conspiracy charges. Steinger's lawyer had sought a more lenient penalty.

Prosecutors say Mutual Benefits was a massive fraud scheme in which investors lost about $830 million between 1994 and 2004. There were about 30,000 victims around the world.

The now-defunct company bought life insurance policies from people with AIDS, cancer and other chronic illnesses and sold them to investors. Prosecutors say the numbers were manipulated and investors misled.