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Former nursing home owner gets 18 months in prison

Mark Korn stood before a federal judge Wednesday and argued that sending him to prison would be a death sentence.

Korn, the 62-year-old former owner of nursing homes in Lewiston and Batavia, said he is in need of a new heart but unlikely to get one and believes that any time in prison could kill him.

Sympathetic but unpersuaded, U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny pointed to Korn's wrongdoing – he admitted stealing from a bank and failing to pay taxes – and instead gave him 18 months in prison.

"You are not the victim here," Skretny told Korn at one point. "Let there be no mistake that you committed serious crimes that carry serious consequences."

Skretny also ordered Korn to pay $3.4 million in restitution, including $132,000 to American Friends of Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, a charity formed to support a hospital in Israel.

First charged in 2011, Korn initially faced 13 felony charges but, in the end, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors. As part of his plea deal, he admitted cheating Fifth Third Bank of Cincinnati and failing to pay federal withholding taxes for his employees.

Prosecutors said Korn, who at the time owned the Fairchild Manor Nursing Home in Lewiston, used false documentation in order to qualify for a $3.9 million line of credit with Fifth Third Bank. Ultimately, the loan went into default and the bank took a loss.

"I did nothing for personal gain," Korn said Wednesday. "My only motivation was to keep my businesses open."

The government told a far different story and suggested to Skretny that Korn's crimes involved widespread deception, including putting his name on other people's bank statements in order to qualify for his loan.

Prosecutors also claim he used some of the embezzled funds to pay to pay off a personal credit card, buy jewelry and pay for family traveling.

"The evidence shows he took this money so he could finance his lavish lifestyle," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth R. Moellering.

In his plea deal, Korn agreed to pay $858,614 to the Internal Revenue Service and $2.4 million to Fifth Third Bank in addition to the money that would go to the American Friends organization.

Korn said he never stole from the charity, and his lawyer said he raised more than $3 million on behalf of the organization over a four-year period.

Corey Hogan, Korn's lawyer, also pointed to his client's heart condition – he has 16 stents and has undergone three bypass procedures – and said his doctors believe prison is the worst place for him.

"There's a good chance he'll have a heart attack and there's a good chance he'll die," Hogan said Wednesday.

Skretny acknowledged Korn's heart condition but said he is confident the federal Bureau of Prisons can adequately care for him. He is recommending Korn serve his time in one of the bureau's medical facilities.

Korn's sentence is the result of an investigation by the FBI and IRS.

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