"This is a disgrace," Politan said several times during a two-hour sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court. "Doctors and lawyers doing things that crooks and criminals do . . . that wise guys do, scheming to beat the system."
Referring to Console's license to practice law, Politan added, "You have taken the most sacred thing we have. . . . and thrown it down the sewer for money and greed."
The judge went on: "It's as bad as if you were selling drugs on the street." Then, addressing all four defendants, he said, "You are hoodlums and thieves."
Console, who once headed a Berlin law firm that specialized in negligence cases, declined to address the judge before sentencing. He was flanked by his attorney, Francis Hartman, and by high-profile New York lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who has been retained to handle Console's appeal.
"In our heart, we don't believe we're guilty to the offenses for which we've been convicted," Hartman said before asking Politan to consider a 24- to 30-month sentence for his client.
But Politan, rejecting all pleas for leniency, said it was important to ''let the public know that the law polices itself" and that there would be no special treatment because the defendants "have white collars instead of blue collars."
Those sentenced yesterday, along with Console, were osteopath Morton Markoff and lawyers Edward C. Curcio and Philip LiVolsi.
Console and Curcio were convicted in May of racketeering, conspiracy and mail fraud in what the government contended was a scheme that cost 25 insurance companies nearly $360,000. Markoff had been convicted at an earlier trial that ended in a hung jury for the two lawyers. LiVolsi, a former law partner of Console and Curcio, pleaded guilty nearly two years ago after being indicted on similar charges.
Federal authorities alleged that Console and Markoff masterminded a scheme to falsify and pad the medical records of law firm clients involved in accidents to inflate their insurance claims.
During yesterday's hearing, Politan referred to the now-disbanded Berlin law firm as a "negligence mill" and said of Markoff, who agreed to testify for the government after his conviction: "He's as guilty as Console. . . . He's as guilty as sin."
Nevertheless, because of his cooperation, Politan sentenced Markoff, of Clementon, to eight years in prison. Curcio was sentenced to six years. LiVolsi, who testified at both trials and was considered the chief government witness, was sentenced to four years.
In addition to the prison terms, Console was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine and $167,000 in restitution. Markoff was ordered to pay $218,000 in restitution, and LiVolsi was ordered to pay $346,000.
Console's and Curcio's licenses to practice law have been suspended, and they are expected to be disbarred, according to their attorneys. Markoff will lose his license to practice medicine, his lawyer said. LiVolsi surrendered his law license when he pleaded guilty.
In one small victory yesterday, Console won a stay of Politan's order that he report immediately to jail. A federal appeals court judge, after hearing arguments from Dershowitz, granted an emergency stay and placed Console under house arrest pending the outcome of a broader hearing on his request to remain free on bail pending his appeal.
Because of court scheduling problems, attorneys for Curcio and Markoff were unable to argue for emergency stays yesterday but said they would do so next week. LiVolsi, who pleaded guilty, had no grounds for appeal.
In comments before sentencing, LiVolsi, who readily admitted his involvement in the racketeering conspiracy, told Politan: "There are a lot of good lawyers in this world. Unfortunately, I was not one of them."
"You're right," the judge replied.