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Amir Anjum Shamim

The promises that came out of Amir Anjum Shamim's mouth should have come across as unbelievable, a federal judge said Monday. The Forest Grove man, who presented himself as an Arabian horse dealer, talked of gold investment pools in which $20,000 stakes would multiply into $300,000 windfalls in two months.


But Shamim, 37, a sporadic landscaper and handyman, was able to secure thousands of dollars at a time from at least six willing investors, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Bounds. Shamim borrowed even more with ginned-up stories including one about needing $24,500 to buy a special Arabian horse embryo as a surprise for his wife, Earlene, Bounds said.


Senior U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones questioned how someone could fall for Shamim's investment scams. But victims' credulity aside, Shamim committed fraud, said Jones, as he handed down a sentence of three years and five months in prison for his three counts of wire fraud. Shamim was also ordered to pay $251,100 in restitution, although it is unlikely he will ever be able to pay it off, the judge acknowledged.


Jones bypassed the joint recommendation from the prosecution and defense, who negotiated a lower term as part of a plea agreement. Although the recommendation is not binding on a judge, Shamim's court-appointed attorney, Francesca Freccero vehemently opposed a higher sentence. She said Shamim has cooperated throughout the case and argued that Bounds was including unproved allegations in his sentencing presentation in a backhanded argument for a higher sentence.  It's too much of a trick, Judge," Freccero said. She argued that the recommended term of two years and nine months is a long prison sentence, particularly for a man like Shamim who has young children.

Jones brushed aside her arguments, saying the sentence was necessary to punish and deter Shamim, who has four previous felony convictions for theft and other offenses in Washington state and Oregon. When Shamim told Jones that he had "made a big mistake," Jones interrupted, thundering that the defendant's actions were not "any mistake."

"You have lied and lied and lied throughout your adult life," Jones said.


Jones' sentence came after testimony by two investors in Shamim's scams. Rita Brandin gave Shamim, whom she met at an Arabian horse show, $190,000 over a five-month period – including money for the mythical embryo.


She acknowledged her embarrassment, saying she tried "to figure out how I got swept into the scam." But she had a lifelong dream to own an Arabian horse and to be a part of that world where "everyone was bigger than life," she said, her voice cracking with emotion. "Shame on me," she said.


But it was Brandin's determination that brought about the criminal case, Bounds said in court. Brandin, an executive with a real estate development firm, hired a private investigative firm, Specialty Resources Group, in Texas to investigate Shamim's record and reach out to other victims. Shamim conversations and emails were documented and evidence was gathered before presenting the information to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Oregon.

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