Eyewear Website Operator Gets 2 More Years in Prison
BY LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — An eyewear website operator who has already served over five years in prison for threatening customers across the country with rape and murder was sentenced to an additional two years in prison Wednesday for resuming the same fraudulent online scam, minus the violent threats.
A disappointed Vitaly Borker tossed his head back when U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe announced the sentence in Manhattan.
Gardephe said in his over two decades as a judge and prosecutor he hadn’t seen someone return “so quickly to exactly the same crime after doing four years, a harsh sentence.”
He also fined Borker $55,000.
The judge said more prison time was necessary to protect society from a man who was still at “great risk” of committing fraud if freed.
Gardephe said the Brooklyn resident has failed to truly accept responsibility.
In a letter to the judge, Borker wrote: “Something is just not right inside my brain.”
Gardephe agreed, noting that mental health professionals had concluded he suffered from bipolar disorder, narcissism, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
He said the “conduct here, quite extraordinary, does reflect mental health issues.”
The Ukrainian immigrant violated terms of his release by resuming fraud after serving a four-year prison sentence for harassing customers from 2007 to 2015.
He was sentenced to an additional two years in prison early last year for the release violation. Wednesday’s sentencing stemmed from his arrest for what prosecutors said was nearly the exact same crime in which he ripped off people buying eyeglasses and seeking repairs online.
A trembling and tearful Borker apologized to Gardephe and promised to never let him down.
“It’s over. It’s over,” Borker said.
When he was originally sentenced to four years in prison, Borker was told by the sentencing judge that victims who testified against him were “highly credible” when they said Borker had threatened them with rape and murder.
In the new case, prosecutors did not allege that Borker made violent threats but they said he continued peddling shoddy glasses as premium ware. They said emails called one customer a “stupid stupid lady” and a “total degenerate.”
They also alleged that Borker posed as “Becky S” in emails to disgruntled customers, telling one: “I have been doing this for a decade. I will teach you a thing or 2 indeed.”
In a release, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said Borker was correctly given more prison time.
“Perhaps his second stint in federal prison will impress upon this shady businessman that seeking to make money by fraud and intimidation is a path to prison and not success,” he said.