On September 15, Stefan He Qin, was sentenced to 90 months in prison for a Ponzi scheme that caused over $54 million in losses to investors. Qin pled guilty to one count of securities fraud and admitted to embezzling nearly $90 million from his cryptocurrency hedge fund. Qin then attempted to steal millions from his secondary fund to repay investors. The case is United States v. Stefan He Qin, Case No. 21-cr-00025 (S.D.N.Y.). Judge Valerie Caproni departed from the recommended sentence of 186-234 months, stating that “a guidelines sentence would be draconian.”
Qin was extremely young (25 years old), a first-time offender, and suffers from severe mental and emotional health issues, so the 90 months still seems to be too much. However, the variance and the statements made by Judge Caproni at sentencing are worth noting in the future when a client is facing overwhelming guidelines due to large loss numbers.