No jail time but $65K owed by coin embezzler

Thirty-seven-year-old Stuart Williams Kasin of Charlotte, N.C., will not serve jail time for embezzlement involving a locally owned coin collection. He was instead handed a five-year suspended prison sentence, five years of probation and must pay $65,238 in restitution to Virginia Raney of Amissville within six months.

Circuit Court Judge James H. Chamblin explained at the conclusion of Kasin’s sentencing hearing Monday (June 26) that if Kasin were in a jail cell, he would not be able to raise the money owed to Raney. As a special condition of his probation, Kasin – who is the president of the Parent Teacher Organization at his son’s school – is not allowed to handle the funds of any other person or organization during those five years.

“Any crime that involves a breach of trust is particularly hard on the victim,” Chamblin said before handing down the sentence. “And I think you’ll agree with me, Mr. Kasin, that sometimes nonphysical hurt can be a lot worse than just physical pain . . . And if you do not produce that money in its entirety before December 2012, you will have to come back before this court, and we have the right to revoke all or part of that suspended prison sentence.”

A complaint filed in May 2011 by Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office (RSCO) investigator Capt. J. C. Welch laid out these facts: In April 2010, Kasin entered into an agreement with Raney to sell a coin collection that belonged to her deceased husband. Raney paid Kasin $3,000 and gave him the coins to sell. After several meetings and many emails, Raney had not received any money more than a year later.

The evidence against Kasin included a scanned copy of the check to him from Virginia Raney, photographs of the coins, sales confirmation receipts indicating that Kasin received a total of $65,238 from various dealers. The original value of the coins is listed at $76,879.

According to sales records filed with the Circuit Court Clerk, the 14 highest-priced coins Kasin sold went to the original dealer from whom Raney’s husband had bought them, Monaco Financial, including an 1878 20-cent piece for $7,650, an 1818 capped bust quarter for $8,175 and an 1876 seated dollar for $11,250.

Kasin, a former money manager in Northern Virginia, pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement on March 15.

A plea for leniency from Kasin’s attorney, Daniel Travostino of Leesburg, painted a picture of a responsible stockbroker and former Middleburg Bank employee who suddenly faced financial difficulties. Several letters of reference on Kasin’s behalf attested that his actions involving the coins were not characteristic.

A letter from his doctor described the myriad of medical issues the 37-year-old has suffered: his childhood diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, the removal of his thyroid and gallbladder, his sleep apnea and severe depression. Travostino noted that Kasin was hospitalized two weeks ago after attempting to commit suicide, and is scheduled for a psychiatric follow up in three weeks.

Letters from others indicated his kindness and untiring support of his 10-year-old son. Travostino said that Kasin moved his family to Charlotte to enroll his son in a school that would better fit him, and that the boy is doing well there, and Kasin is PTO president and is well-respected there.

The proceeds from Raney’s coin collection were used to finance the family’s move to Charlotte, and to pay for a year’s rent in advance, Travostino said.

Raney, the sole witness at the hearing, testified that she and her husband Chuck had known Kasin for about 10 years; he was their broker, she said. Raney said seven months after her husband’s death, Kasin contacted her “out of the blue” and asked if there was anything he could do to help. The two met in Fauquier, and Raney told Kasin of the coin collection, the proceeds of which were intended to be used to support her husband’s daughter, whose own husband was terminally ill.

“I trusted Stuart,” Raney said, explaining why she had handed over the collection to Kasin. Her $3,000 check to him was to cover expenses and as compensation in advance for helping to sell the coins. “I had no reason not to trust him.”

After what she described as several months of being “strung along,” Raney discovered that Kasin had received about $65,000 for her coins, many of which were sold shortly after he took possession of them. Several emails and attempts to get the money from Kasin were unsuccessful, so she contacted the police.

When asked by Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff how this experience has changed her, Raney said: “I’m distrustful now. The style in which my husband’s plan for me to live has been altered. I’m disappointed. Both of us trusted Stuart.”

“What I seem to be hearing here is that because of his desperate situation, Mr. Kasin felt entitled to use this money,” Goff said in his closing statement, “and I would call this blatant, outright theft.”

Goff asked that Chamblin include a special condition that Kasin never handle the money of other people, and outline a repayment plan. “Justice demands something more than probation and no incarceration. I think that the sentencing guidelines are woefully inadequate in this case . . . This has put the victim’s whole life on hold. I think that the court should impose some incarceration, at least some months in the county jail.”

Travostino acknowledged that what his client did was wrong, and said that Kasin knew it was wrong when he did it, but noted he has pleaded guilty to a felony and has plans to return the money owed to Raney.

“In his twenties, Mr. Kasin was making $200,000 a year, and then suddenly he’s facing foreclosure,” Travostino said. “Stuart wanted to move to Charlotte for his child. He has no record at all, other than two speeding tickets . . . This was an uncharacteristic act for him. I ask for you to sentence Mr. Kasin within the guidelines.”

“I’m very sorry for what I’ve done,” Kasin said before Chamblin handed down the sentence. “I know it was wrong, and I’ve always planned on paying that money back.”