Source AP ©

Car broker who swindled actor Nicolas Cage sentenced to five years in prison

A classic-car broker who swindled actor Nicolas Cage and other clients was sentenced to five years in prison and $1.9 million (EUR1.4 million) in restitution.

Peter Brotman, 47, sold collectable cars such as a 1964 Rolls-Royce, a 1988 Aston Martin and a 1954 Jaguar on consignment, then kept the money or used it to pay off earlier debts.

Cage, identified in the 14-count indictment only as "N.C.," lost $300,000 (EUR220,900) in April 2004 when Brotman did not send him the full proceeds from the sale of three Ferraris and a Cobra.

"The guy was extremely knowledgeable in the classic-car industry," Assistant U.S. Attorney Floyd J. Miller said after the sentencing hearing. "It's a very insular community of mostly wealthy people. They have these auctions at Pebble Beach, Monte Carlo, other places where the rich and famous meet."

Brotman also defrauded Willow Grove Bank out of $950,000 (EUR700,000) they lent him to run his suburban Philadelphia business, Pennsylvania Motor Sports, prosecutors said.

Defense lawyer Noah Gorson argued that Brotman went to Europe to pursue work so he could repay his victims. At one point, he pledged the proceeds of a $450 million (EUR331 million) art deal he hoped to broker, but questions arose about the authenticity of the 93 pieces.

Gorson blamed the financial scam on his client's "cash-flow problems." He did not immediately return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Brotman, who has been detained, pleaded guilty in January to 14 mail-, wire- and bank-fraud counts.

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