TAMPA — The fraudster spoke with all the eloquence he could muster.
He was sorry for the lies he had told investors. He regretted deceiving them in a scheme that cost them more than $500,000.
Standing in an orange jail suit Monday in a federal courtroom in Tampa, Anthony J. Klatch Jr. lamented his mental illness and substance abuse. He said it was up to him to better himself.
"Right now, all I can do is apologize," Klatch said.
But U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore had no sympathy. This was not the first time Klatch had swindled people.
"I appreciate your words, but they mean nothing," Whittemore said. "You're not going to come into this courtroom and sugar-coat this offense."
The judge ordered Klatch to serve 9 1/2 years in prison on top of a three-year sentence he is already serving for fraud convictions in south Florida.
Klatch, 33, had already done prison time for a 2011 conviction related to a $2.3 million investment scheme. He was serving a term of supervised release when he started a Tampa-based company in 2015 called Assurance Capital Management LLC.
In an effort to attract investors, Klatch approached people in online chat rooms, often introducing himself as "Larry Heim," according to a federal plea agreement.
He told the potential investors that ACM had more than $18 million in assets under management. He said the company's employees would make substantial profits for them through online stock trading. To prove it, he showed some fake financial statements and other paperwork, prosecutors said.
The truth was the company had very few funds under management. What little money it had was lost in trading or to pay Klatch's personal expenses.
Not knowing this, the investors wired funds to an ACM account at Chase Bank the company could trade or invest for them. Klatch also convinced investors to give him access to their online trading accounts, prosecutors said.
One victim lost $367,613 in three days of trading before discovering that "Larry Heim" and ACM were not what they seemed.
All told, Klatch's scheme defrauded investors of $516,759, according to a plea agreement.
While the case was being investigated, Klatch was sentenced to nine months for violating the conditions of his supervised release.
In early 2016, he walked away from a halfway house. He was arrested a few months later in Miami, where investigators found him with several fake driver's licenses. Federal authorities said he used them to create counterfeit credit cards to purchase, among other things, a Ferrari and resort memberships.
In Tampa, he pleaded guilty in May to a charge of wire fraud.
Valerie McClain, a psychologist who examined Klatch in jail, said he suffers from bipolar disorder, alcoholism, cocaine addiction and a mental disorder that affects the way he perceives his body image. She said Klatch was sexually abused as a child and had attempted suicide three times while incarcerated.
Klatch's defense attorney, Adam Allen, also described Klatch as highly intelligent, having excelled academically and ultimately earning an MBA.
"He is an individual who has a lot of issues," Allen said. "When he's unmedicated and using alcohol, he cannot control his behavior."
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Riedel argued that Klatch is a danger to the public. He is a "persistent and pathological fraudster," who had "weaponized his intellect" to manipulate his victims, she said.
"He does not care about any of us," Riedel said. "The rest of us are walking marks."
Whittemore, noting Klatch's lack of respect for the law, sentenced him at the high end of what federal guidelines suggested. Klatch must also serve three years of supervised release, pay restitution in the amount he stole, and undergo mental health treatment.
Contact Dan Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.