A University of Minnesota professor has been sentenced to four years of probation and four months in the workhouse for falsifying the value of his retirement nest egg in an attempt to cheat his former wife out of her share.
If Massoud Amin, 57, successfully completes his probation, the three felony charges of which the jury convicted him will be reduced to misdemeanors. At sentencing Friday, Hennepin County District Judge Tanya Bransford also imposed a $30,000 fine.
Assistant County Attorney Joshua Larson asked the judge to impose a 3½-year prison sentence based on the jury finding that his crimes were committed over a lengthy period, involved multiple incidences and the value of the attempted theft by swindle was more than $100,000.
"His conduct is a tapestry of lies and greed," Larson said in court.
Amin spoke during sentencing of accompanying his parents to poor villages in his native Iran before moving to the United States in 1978 and becoming an electrical engineer to improve the lives of those villagers.
"I have been demoted back to where I started," Amin said. "I am terrified of what might come next. Even before I was convicted, my reputation was severely damaged. I beg for mercy."
Amin's attorney indicated that his client is considering an appeal.
"We strongly believe that this case should never have been brought in the first place, it was resolved in the divorce process and no crime was committed," defense attorney Ryan Kaess said Sunday.
Amin remains a faculty member but has resigned as director of the university's Technological Leadership Institute and is not teaching classes, U spokesman Jake Ricker said Sunday. Amin will continue working on research and scholarly writing, Ricker added.
Ricker said the university will reevaluate Amin's status once the appeal is decided or the matter becomes final.
A professor of electrical and computer engineering, Amin has been with the university since March 2003.
In September, a jury convicted Amin of one count of attempted theft by swindle, and two counts of aggravated forgery. Several documents he submitted to family court indicated that his retirement account had $745,012 in it. His wife was sure that was wrong, and testimony indicated that he had tampered with the documents and his actual retirement fund balance was nearly $900,000.
His now former wife, in a statement read on her behalf in court, said that Amin manipulated her to the point that she began to doubt herself and her memory and she feared for her safety because he bought 14 guns after the criminal case against him had begun.
"The level of psychological abuse has negatively impacted my well-being," she wrote in her statement.
In a legal complication for the professor growing out of the fraud case, Amin had weapons possession charges against him suspended in January after he agreed to pay $500 and sell 14 pistols he bought over a 17-day period in the summer of 2017.
If Amin avoids being charged with a weapons-related offense for one year, the seven gross-misdemeanor charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm will be dismissed, according to the agreement between Amin and the Minneapolis City Attorney's Office.
Amin made the purchases even though he was aware he had been charged in June 2017 with aggravated forgery.