Federal prosecutors said yesterday that Patrick Buttery's cooperation helped them win a guilty plea against the CEO of a now-bankrupt computer company that bilked consumers, suppliers and credit-card companies out of $39 million.
But unlike the CEO, George Capell, who was sentenced last November to seven years and two months in the slammer, Buttery, 55, of Philadelphia, who was chief financial officer of Computer Personalities Systems Inc., fared much better.
U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody gave Buttery 12 months and a day in prison, five years of supervised release, and ordered him to make restitution with Capell of $31.9 million.
Brody also ordered Buttery to perform a period of community service during his first year of supervised release. He must begin his prison term on May 4.
Before being sentenced, Buttery said he regretted "every day" what happened and asked Brody for "mercy."
Brody's sentence reflected that both the feds and Buttery had argued for leniency.
"Your response to this event is so different from Capell. He's shown absolutely no remorse. You understand what happened and why you did it," Brody said, adding he was in some sense a "victim" of Capell.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter D. Hardy said Buttery cooperated with the feds and wasn't as culpable as Capell.
Capell was the mastermind of the scheme and starred in his own cable-TV infomercials to peddle computers and related parts and services. His computer company went bankrupt in 2001.
Consumers placed orders over the phone or Internet and were charged up front for computer packages. Delivery of many packages was delayed or only parts were shipped and some consumers got nothing at all. The feds said consumers were defrauded of more than $3 million.
Hardy said it was important that Buttery got some jail time to deter others who may be similarly inclined.
Buttery's attorney, Benjamin Brait Cooper, said the sentence was "very fair" but asked that Buttery not be sent to the same prison as Capell.
"I thought it was better for Patrick, and less stressful, not having to see someone who was a bad experience for him," Cooper said.
Buttery pleaded guilty on Jan. 30, 2006, to fraud and money laundering and agreed to cooperate with the feds. Just 17 days later, Capell copped a plea.
Buttery's participation in the scheme started in February 2000 and ended in March 2001.