The man once singled out by Vice President Al Gore and Gov. George Pataki for his leadership was sentenced on Thursday to 5 years and 3 months in federal prison for real estate fraud that bilked the government and banks out of $1.9 million and robbed many individuals of their life savings.
Aaron R. Dare, 39, said Thursday in court he never had an opportunity to apologize publicly to those who gave him their trust; some of those individuals were present. “I want them to know I am sorry. It has taken a great toll on them,” he said.
“Somewhere along the way, I lost my path. I made horrible decisions,” said Dare, who once led the Urban League of Northeastern New York and was seen by many in the community as a rising star who offered hope and promise to the minority community.
He said that hopefully, he will have an opportunity to “make good on the decisions I made.”
Dare, who wore a gray suit and carried a Bible into the courtroom, showed little reaction when U.S. Judge Lawrence E. Kahn handed down the sentence, which includes three years of post-release supervision and restitution of nearly $2 million to the victims.
His attorney, Arnold Proskin, had asked the judge to show compassion and requested house arrest for Dare so he could begin to take the first steps toward a new life. He said that Dare has congenital heart disease that should be taken into consideration.
Proskin said Dare had fully cooperated with federal authorities, including the FBI, but had chosen the wrong friends — repeatedly. He said that except for some in the media, Dare was “greatly respected in the community.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Capezza said that after Dare pleaded guilty in November 2006, he faced 51 months in prison but violated the terms of his plea agreement when he was arrested again.
Dare was charged in August 2007 for an alleged appraisal scheme and pleaded guilty in April in Albany County Court to a single felony count of filing a false instrument. He faces an additional one to three years in state prison.
“We oppose any credit for cooperation,” said Capezza, who asked Kahn to sentence Dare and send him immediately to federal prison. He said the sentencing had already been delayed for 1 1⁄2 years.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Dare faced between 63 and 78 months in prison and Kahn imposed the minimum. “I believe you do have remorse,” he told Dare. “This is a sad case. It’s obvious that you have good skills.
“You destroyed the most valuable asset that you possess — your good name.”
Kahn said that hopefully Dare can eventually use his talents and “finally become the person that everyone thought you were.”
Dare was placed in the custody of federal marshals. Before leaving the courtroom, he waved to a couple family members, including his mother. He never broke down or wept.
His mother did not comment as she left the federal courthouse.
Dare’s meteoric rise to prominence finally crashed when he became tangled in a mortgage fraud scheme involving the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that eventually led to dozens of foreclosures. He pleaded guilty in November 2006 to federal charges of fraud and conspiracy connected to $8 million in federal loans.
He was charged after a yearlong FBI investigation into his scheme to obtain financing for three multifamily residential units at the Hinkel Brewery in Albany, 100 units in the historic Pastures in Albany and 24 units in the Old Franklin School in Schenectady.
He used money he obtained by filing false information from HUD to buy the properties and eventually defaulted on all the loans.
Proskin said after the sentencing, “I think it was a very, very fair disposition.” He added that Dare also believed it was a fair sentence.
Proskin said he had advised Dare to “speak from the heart” in the courtroom and he did not coach him or write his statement.
“He was not saying: ‘Oh, I’m sorry I was arrested.’ He was saying: ‘I have remorse. This has ruined my life. This is what I am trying to straighten out.’ ”
Even after he serves out this prison term, his legal worries are far from over.
Just two months ago, Dare and his fiance, Ana Montiero, were indicted in Albany County Court on entirely new mortgage fraud charges after a state police investigation. Police estimate the amount lost by banks and individuals at $1.5 million.
Proskin said on Thursday the charges are “baseless.”
Of the most recent charges, District Attorney P. David Soares said: “His crime wasn’t just ripping people off. He’s left a trail of devastation in his wake. Boarded-up buildings are going to stay that way for years to come. That’s what he’s done for his community.”
Dare’s long-delayed sentencing on Thursday ends what once looked like a promising leadership role in Albany. In 1996, at the age of 26, Dare became the youngest president of an Urban League chapter in that organization’s history.
He had a background in banking and telecommunications and drew much attention for his proposal to revitalize Albany’s depressed Arbor Hill neighborhood.
It was intended to bring 200 new jobs to Arbor Hill through a charter school, a string of businesses and the renovation of dilapidated buildings, but it ended in financial collapse, an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and now five years in federal prison.
Categories: Schenectady County