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'Millionaire Matchmaker' contestant gets eight years in prison

TAMPA — Michael A. Prozer III, a contestant on Bravo TV's The Millionaire Matchmaker who claimed he was worth $400 million, will be off the dating market for a while.

A federal judge Thursday sentenced Prozer to 81/2 years in prison for a bank fraud scheme in which he secured a $3 million loan in the months before his 2009 appearance on the show by pretending he had millions stashed in two banks.

Prozer's days faking a life of high finance and glitter are done. Now, he will have to pay $25 quarterly in restitution to the bank or half his wages, depending on the kind of prison job he obtains.

Prozer, 36, of Tampa, is broke and has a lawyer on the taxpayers' dime.

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington imposed a prison term just a few months shy of the maximum guideline sentence. Prozer pleaded guilty in April on the day his trial was to open on charges that included mail, wire and bank fraud.

Fedor Stanley Salinas, 35, the former Wachovia Bank employee whom prosecutors said helped Prozer in his scheme after he was paid $25,000, also was sentenced Thursday to 27 months by Covington after he pleaded guilty.

Salinas, who had no prior criminal record, had faced a minimum sentence of nearly six years. But Covington imposed less prison time, noting Salinas faced the severe penalty of deportation to his native El Salvador upon release. He hasn't visited the nation in more than 25 years.

His wife and child will not follow him because they are U.S. citizens, said his attorney, John Trevena. Salinas, he said, knows nobody in that country.

Prosecutors said Prozer began pursuing the $3 million loan in 2008 with the now-shuttered Park Avenue Bank, telling the Georgia-based institution he needed operating funds for his business, XchangeAgent. He described the company as processing electronic payments on the Internet.

One document sent to Park Avenue was a letter from Wachovia confirming Prozer had $21 million in collateral on deposit. Trevena, however, said Salinas' signature had been forged on the document, and his client told the bank before the loan was granted.

'Millionaire Matchmaker' contestant gets eight years in prison 08/16/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 17, 2012 12:53am]

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