OCEAN CITY – A former Ocean City pharmacist convicted in August on conspiracy to commit bank fraud charges got his wish somewhat this week when a federal judge sentenced him to three years of supervised release including a period of home detention and ordered him to pay restitution.
When former Ocean City pharmacist Joel Swartz appeared for a sentencing hearing in federal court on Tuesday, the convicted felon was facing as many as 30 years in jail and a fine of up to $1 million. Swartz and his late wife were arrested last February on a nine-count indictment including charges of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, identity theft and others alleging an eight-year pattern of utilizing credit accounts of deceased relatives to purchase vacations, luxury goods and services and furnishings for their two resort homes totaling thousands of dollars.
After pleading guilty to a conspiracy to commit bank fraud charge in August, Joel Swartz, through federal public defenders, appealed for leniency at sentencing, citing a laundry list of reasons why incarceration would not be appropriate. Federal prosecutors disagreed, however, and urged U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake to include additional jail time when it came to sentencing Swartz on Tuesday.
In the end, the defense was somewhat successful in convincing the judge. On Tuesday, Swartz was sentenced to three years of supervised release, the first six months of which will be served in home detention with electronic monitoring. Swartz was also ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and, perhaps more importantly, pay restitution in the amount of $75,197.14.
In a pre-sentence memorandum, Swartz’s public defenders suggested their client should not be incarcerated at all.
“Mr. Swartz disagrees that additional incarceration is appropriate in his case,” federal public defenders said in a pre-sentencing memorandum to the judge. “Additional incarceration would be excessive and harsher than necessary to effectuate the goals of sentencing. However, Mr. Swartz does not disagree that a period of home detention on electronic monitoring would be an appropriate condition of supervised release as an alternative to incarceration.”
However, U.S. District Attorney for Maryland Rod Rosenstein disagreed.
“The defendant argues that any sentence which imposes so much as a day of additional incarceration would be unjust,” Rosenstein’s memorandum read. “The government disagrees with each and every one of these assertions.”
Swartz, 65, a practicing pharmacist in the resort at the time of his arrest, and his late wife Esther Swartz, were arrested after a federal indictment was unsealed last January. Esther Swartz has since passed away after battling a lengthy illness.
According to the indictment, from July 2000 to December 2008, Joel and Esther Swartz used credit accounts of two dead relatives to obtain unauthorized extensions of credit from banks and other financial institutions for their personal use. The defendants did not inform the banks and financial institutions that the account holders, Joel Swartz’s parents, had died.
According to the 13-page indictment, the defendants allegedly accessed their deceased relatives’ credit accounts by cashing convenience checks and using credit cards to purchase goods and services.