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Four in hedge fund sting convicted in Central Islip

Date: Thursday, January 15, 2009
Author: Robert E. Kessler, Newsday.com

Maybe you heard the one about the phony multibillion dollar Long Island hedge fund that was actually performing a public service.

No? Well, apparently neither did four confidence men, according to federal prosecutors.

The four were rapidly convicted yesterday in federal court in Central Islip, after walking into a federal sting operation in which they thought they were about to collect $3 billion from a Long Island hedge fund. The money was to be used to construct what they said was a pipeline through the Russian Republic of Buryatia, prosecutors said.

The unnamed hedge fund was actually a fictitious creation of FBI agents and inspectors from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Miskiewicz said during the seven-day trial. The sting was aimed at catching rings of confidence men.

The four - who face up to 20 years in prison for fraud and were convicted after a jury deliberated for two and a half hours - were John Juncal of Montana, James Campbell of Iowa, Emerson Corsey of Georgia and Rodney Sampson of Georgia.

The four had said that for collateral for the $3 billion, they had $10 billion in U.S. treasury instruments that had been loaned to Buryatia by the U.S. government, according to prosecutors. They said they needed the hedge fund money to help complete an oil pipeline through Buryatia, according to court papers.

Attorneys for the four, who could be reached, said their clients would appeal. Miskiewicz declined to comment.

While there was no hedge fund with $3 billion and no $10 billion worth of treasury loans, prosecutors said, Buryatia is real. It is an autonomous Russian region in southeast Siberia, populated by about a million people, most of whom are nomads.