Two last-ditch motions on the eve of convicted schemer M. Derrick Peninger's sentencing -- the second attempt at his sentencing, that is -- failed to sway a federal court judge.
Prosecutors plan to ask for the statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison Friday.
Peninger failed to show up for a previous hearing in April and eluded authorities for 10 days before police dogs tracked him down to a Daniel Island business park. The charge of failing to appear, a separate case, carries an additional maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Thomas Withers, a Savannah lawyer who took the case off local attorney Kerry Koon's hands just days ago, requested a two-week continuance to better prepare for the hearing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rhett DeHart argued that Withers' motion came without any new evidence in the case and that Peninger's 35 or so victims, mostly older and middle class, would not receive timely notice of the date change.
U.S. District Judge P. Michael Duffy denied Withers' motion.
Withers then requested a new trial based on failure to include details from a mortgage fraud case against one of Peninger's partners, Michael LeDoyen III. That case, Withers argued, damages the heart-wrenching testimony of a New York state woman who, after losing retirement and property money from investing with Peninger, took up ironing and housecleaning for an Isle of Palms family while her husband maintains their yard.
LeDoyen had been married to the New York woman's daughter, and the daughter falsified a loan application, Withers argued. DeHart countered that the mortgage fraud case was separate from the "giant Ponzi scheme."
Duffy pointed out that none of the victims blamed LeDoyen for lost investment funds, "but they all name Mr. Peninger." He denied that motion as well.
Authorities estimate that Peninger's scheme consumed $7 million in his clients' money before collapsing. A jury found him guilty of eight counts of mail fraud and one count of lying to an FBI agent in October.
Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or firstname.lastname@example.org.