Billionaire fraudster Joe Lewis, 87, escapes prison for insider trading

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Octogenarian British billionaire Joe Lewis – who wore a patch over his right eye – was spared jail on Thursday on his insider trading conviction, saying he could die behind bars because of his “weak” condition.

Manhattan Federal Court Judge Jessica Clarke suspended the 87-year-old former owner of London's Tottenham Hotspur soccer club after prosecutors said they did not seek to jail him — after he admitted giving illegal stock tips to his girlfriend and pilots that they used. to earn more than $500,000 – due to his health problems.

“You have before you a frail, 87-year-old man with significant health problems whose condition has deteriorated since the indictment,” Lewis' attorney, David Sorno, said before the judge handed down his sentence.

The no-jail sentence means Lewis, who is based in the Bahamas, will not spend a day in jail even after admitting to what the feds called a “brazen” scheme to hook up his ex-girlfriend Caroline Carter — Miss US Virgin Islands 2016 — and the pilots. Brian Waugh and Patrick O'Connor with inside information.

The Bahamas-based investor was allowed to walk free in July after posting a $300 million bond secured by his $250 million yacht — “AVIVA” — and his private jet.

“He chose to abuse access and information at the top of the financial mountain, and he did it over and over again,” attorney Jason Richman said during the hearing.

Lewis will not spend a day in jail after prosecutors and a judge agreed that his health problems put him at risk in the lockup. Reuters

The prosecutor called the circumstances of Lewis' age and health problems a “unique situation” and insisted to the court that the no-jail decision sends a message that “even billionaires are not above the law.”

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The feds also said Lewis may have had a lengthy extradition battle instead of voluntarily going abroad to fight the US.

Lewis sat at the defense table with his hands folded in his lap during the trial. His right hand, pressed against his left, trembled throughout the process — but the tremors picked up speed as his lawyer began to argue why he shouldn't go to jail.

Lewis was fined $5 million and his company Broad Bay Ltd was ordered to pay more than $45 million — but that was a drop in the bucket for the financier, whose net worth is estimated at more than $6 billion. He will also be on probation for three years.

Lewis covered his face as he walked in and out of the courtroom. Good pictures
He admitted to issuing illegal stock tips to his girlfriend and private pilots that he used to earn more than $500,000. AFP via Getty Images

Lewis gave a brief speech during the sentencing hearing, calling the crime a “terrible mistake.”

“I broke the law, I'm ashamed, I'm sorry, and I take responsibility,” he said from his seat at the defense table. “I want time to make amends for the trust I have wasted,” he asked the court.

Lewis' lawyer explained the eye patches by saying his client was “facing very serious problems with his right eye” and planned to have surgery soon in the UK.

The attorney mentioned other health issues Lewis suffers from, but did not go into specifics, citing the elderly man's privacy.

The judge agreed that Lewis' health problems were serious enough to put him at “risk of falling” and suffering serious, life-threatening injuries if locked up.

“It is clear to me that Mr. Lewis's life would be in grave danger if he were incarcerated,” Clark said.

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Lewis, his family members and his attorney made significant and unsuccessful attempts to shield him from news cameras Thursday. He covered his face with his hands on the way into the court.

On the way out, despite the balmy 50-degree weather, Lewis donned his bodyguard's tan North Face winter jacket, pulled the hood over his head, leaned in behind a guard and other supporters as he was escorted to a waiting car.

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