Floyd Jay Mann, a 56-year-old from Puyallup, Washington, has asked to be sentenced to no more than five years in jail for scamming approximately $3 million away from 15 or more people, mostly from Dillingham.
That sentence is "sufficient, but not more than necessary, to address the seriousness of the offense" and promote rehabilitation, wrote federal public defender Jamie McGrady, Mann's appointed attorney.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess is expected to hand down the sentence after hearings Monday and Tuesday in Anchorage. It's unclear if Burgess will grant continued requests by the defense to delay the sentencing, which the prosecutor argues will add additional hardships on the rural victims involved.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aunnie Steward, who is prosecuting the case, is recommending Mann spend a little more than eight years in prison.
Both Steward and McGrady suggest a term of three years of supervised probation is appropriate, and both believe Mann should pay restitution, though they differ on the amounts. Steward is seeking $2.7 million, and McGrady is asking the court to decide.
In July, Mann pleaded guilty to all 19 counts against him. A grand jury indicted Mann on the wire fraud and money laundering charges the year prior, following a lengthy multi-agency investigation. Mann chose not to dispute any of the facts of the case alleged by the government, but the defense and prosecution now offer very different views of his motives.
"Floyd Jay Mann has suffered from gambling and opioid pain pill addiction for at least the past decade," wrote McGrady, Mann's attorney, and these "compulsions" drove him to his actions. She points out that Mann has "accepted total responsibility, despite his addiction-caused lack of memory as to many of these events."
Additionally, McGrady argues, a "deeply sorry" Mann will be no good to his victims behind bars; rather, the sooner he can return to society, the sooner he can dedicate "the remainder of his working life to make restitution to them."
McGrady calls the judge's attention to Mann's use of the $2.7 million he siphoned away from his unwitting victims over four years. He didn't buy luxury cars, travel abroad, buy a house, or pad an offshore account. The money, she said, went almost entirely to slots and pills.
"That Mr. Mann could spend such an astronomical amount of money on drugs and gambling speaks to his deep-seated and unrelenting addictions," she said.
Mann, McGrady wrote, spent years in a perpetually "manic state," sending hundreds of text messages per day with the "latest absurd story" to "get his fix." Night after night, he fed the one-armed bandit at Puyallup-area casinos, including the Emerald Queen in Fife, Washington. (Federal investigators found he racked up more than $1 million in winnings during his multi-year slot spree.) This bad habit was "able to blossom" due to another, said McGrady: Mann "was perpetually impaired due to this severe oxycodone abuse."
The addictions took a toll on Mann's physical and mental health, and his marriage. (His wife, Cheryl D. Mann, pleaded guilty to defrauding the Social Security Administration out of more than $80,000 for collecting needs-based benefits while raking in the winnings. A federal judge in Washington sentenced her to three years of probation.) McGrady plans to call an expert witness to testify about the impact Mann's addictions had on his life and decisions, and is recommending he be ordered to complete treatment programs.
Steward isn't buying Mann's arguments and has little sympathy for the huckster. He has, she wrote, been able to live off his lies – and even support his drug habit – since at least 1999. But it wasn't until six years ago that he "literally and figuratively" hit the jackpot. That's when the Manns moved into a house on 148 Street Court East, just a few doors down John and Clara Wren, siblings originally from Dillingham. The elderly, churchgoing Wrens bought Mann's made-up story.
"Mann's skill for getting people to believe his lies, honed over a decade of experience, paid off for him in 2011-2016, earning him almost $3 million from [the Wrens] and their friends and relatives in Dillingham, Alaska," Steward wrote in her sentencing recommendation to the court. "Mann used this money to pay for his narcotic and gambling habits, and to send his family on vacation while his victims lost their homes, businesses, retirement funds and had to turn off their heat and other utilities to keep giving money to Mann to help, as they believed, save" his life.
Mann cooked up an impressively clever scheme involving a big pharmaceutical company responsible for his fictitious cancer, seasoning the story with crooked judges and federal agents, plots against his life and a massive lawsuit soon to dole out hundreds of millions of dollars. If his "investors" would just hang on a bit longer, and if he survived all of the costly treatments they were funding, all of them would reap a windfall beyond their wildest dreams.
The growing list of victims pooled money together each and every time Mann asked, and he treated them like an ATM. He eventually had to avoid his bank, because the deposits, at more than $100,000 month, were raising eyebrows. Then, the small group of true believers arranged delivery of bags of cash, wherever and whenever Mann – or one of the characters he played – directed.
Cheryl Mann was brutally honest about her husband's conduct during a spat in December 2015, toward the end of the scheme's run.
"I don't make you lie, or take drugs, and whatever the hell else you're doing all hours of the night," she texted him, as quoted by Steward in her memo. "You don't work for a living, you con people for a living and because I don't fall for your bull****, you tell me I'm crazy..?…Acting like a big shot while you beg for money over the phone with [victim P.D.]!"
The other victims have had a difficult time coming to grips with the reality of the fraud perpetrated against them for close to five years. Dillingham police, tipped off in 2014 to the suspicious amounts of money leaving town, contacted several of the victims to ask about the situation. Chief Dan Pasquariello also advised them to get out of what he said he could tell was a scam. He was rebuffed, on a few occasions less than politely. Other friends, family and fellow congregants – most of the victims attend the same Seventh-day Adventist Church in Dillingham – had similar success trying to steer them away. Homes were lost, businesses closed, one person was fired from a prominent job and reputations were harmed.
"The victims did not believe that the scheme was fraudulent when legitimate FBI agents showed up to conduct interviews and served search warrants, because they had been told so many stories of corrupt agents and judges," wrote Steward. "Not until after the agents showed up, when Mann stopped calling and asking for money, did the victims accept that the stories he had been telling them for six years were fraudulent."
He sent thousands of text messages, mainly to one Dillingham victim, who rallied the others. One Sunday in 2014, just hours before his beloved Seattle Seahawks were to take on the Denver Broncos in the 48th Super Bowl, Mann tugged at his "bud's" heartstrings as he was supposedly to head in for another costly surgery.
"Sorry. Getting me. Ready. For surgery. I have. No Choice. Are. Part is. Thirty. One. Hundred. And. Nineteen. Dollars. They. Have to pay. Then. Thousand. Why. Does. This always. Happen to me. Watch. Game. For. Me. Bud. No. Surgery. Ill. Be. Dead. No choice. Bye. Bud. Love ya. Man. No. Homo. Surgerys. Four. Hours. Alisha. Has. Phone. Now. Money due rt. Away. So it wont. Hold it. Up. Go. Hawks."
Restitution is not expected anytime soon. One couple has documented losses of $900,000, and another $750,000. Those dollars, and all the rest Mann made off with — including his more than $1 million in slot winnings — are gone, gambled away, as best as federal investigators can tell.