Posted on 30 May 2012 by Neilson
One-time political player and insurance magnate Michael "Mickey" Segal was freed Tuesday from prison a few months early after a federal judge resentenced him for his 2004 conviction for fraud, racketeering and embezzlement.
After nearly eight years in prison and many appeals, Segal, 69, walked out of a federal court just four months ahead of his original release date.
Segal, who still faces court proceedings over millions of dollars he has been ordered to forfeit, smiled when U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo ordered his sentence reduced to time served, allowing Segal to return home on supervised release.
Segal, wearing faded black slacks and a blue blazer, hugged friends and relatives in the courtroom. He had been released from federal prison in Oxford, Wis., to the custody of his lawyers last week pending Tuesday's hearing.
"I'm very humbled by this. I'm very happy right now," Segal said as he walked from the courtroom. "I don't want to gloat."
Segal was convicted of raiding $30 million from a trust fund held by his company, Near North Insurance Brokerage, in part to pay for a lavish lifestyle that included a historic Highland Park mansion on 17 acres overlooking Lake Michigan. He had already served most of the 10-year sentence Castillo handed down in December 2005, and with credits for good behavior was due to be released in October.
Castillo recalled the "odyssey" of legal filings since Segal was charged in 2002, and the long trial and multiple appeals. Segal has maintained his innocence, and still did not admit guilt Tuesday, saying only that in prison, he had tried to learn from "what my mistakes might have been."
"I'm a different person than I was eight years ago," he said.
An appeals court panel ruled earlier this month that Castillo should review Segal's sentence, which hinged in part on convictions for "honest services fraud," a crime that was redefined by court rulings in the fraud cases against disgraced Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling and media mogul Conrad Black.
Even while agreeing to reduce Segal's sentence, Castillo seemed reluctant and noted Segal's lack of remorse. "I see that you can do good things, as well as the bad things that you have to this day failed to acknowledge, even when given this rare second chance to do so," Castillo said.
It's not clear what life on the outside will be like for Segal, who was required to divest his ownership of Near North after his conviction and has been ordered to forfeit the millions he stole. The Highland Park mansion was sold for $17.6 million to a developer six years ago.
Segal has maintained in court filings that he has no money, and his attorney Marc Martin said Tuesday that Segal had never paid him for his services.
Martin said the years of appeals that finally won Segal the early reprieve had paid off.
"I would say any day you don't spend behind bars makes it worth (the effort)," Martin said.