“Con man” sentenced for $324,000 ripoff of business people

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KINGSTON – A Hurley man, who District Attorney Holley Carnright called a “con man,” was sentenced in Ulster County Court to 60 days in the county jail, five years of probation and ordered to pay restitution of $224,000 to be distributed between six victims within the first two years of probation. John Benkert, 52, was also ordered to complete 150 more hours of community service.
During his guilty plea in April of last year, Benkert admitted to stealing the money from local businessmen and friends using fraudulent pretenses.
He was arrested following a long-term investigation by State Police and the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office, which revealed his scheme involved the alleged development of a mall in Connecticut.  Based on promises of a quick reimbursement with substantial interest, investors lent him funds at a time when Benkert had no intention or financial capability of repaying the advances.
At Benkert’s sentencing, the Ulster County Probation Department reported that he was ordered to serve 480 hours of community service before the sentencing and that he tried to con the probation department and the court by lying about the hours of community service he had performed. He admitted to that in court. He also failed to pay $149,000 of restitution, which he had been ordered to pay before his April 26 sentencing.
“Plain and simple, Benkert is a con man,” said Carnright.  “We have no reasonable expectation that he will pay the restitution ordered by the court. Hopefully, if that prediction becomes a reality, Benkert will be resentencing to state prison.”