August 23, 2004 LAWFUEL – Best for legal news, law news, law articles. See www.lawfuel.com United States District Court Judge Dale S. Fischer today sentenced former celebrity fund-raiser Aaron Tonken to 63 months in prison for his scheme to defraud donors and underwriters in connection with his promotion and production of charitable events. On December 9, 2003, Tonken pled guilty to a two-count information charging one count of mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341, and one count of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343.
Tonken falsely represented to donors and underwriters that their contributions would pay event expenses or would benefit charities. In fact, Tonken used the contributions for his personal benefit, including payment of personal loans and the purchase of luxury items. In a scheme reminiscent of the “Producers,” he routinely promised more than 100% of the net proceeds from the events to multiple charities. He also falsely solicited contributions for events he never produced, such as “Celebrating Diana,” a supposed tribute to Diana Ross.
In addition to sentencing Tonken to 63 months in prison, the Court ordered him to pay approximately $3.8 million in restitution to his victims, and placed him on supervised release for a term of three years. Tonken was ordered to report to the United States Marshals, or to a designated correctional institution, to commence serving his sentence on September 22, 2004.