"The first and proper thing to do is to apologize to the court, to my family and friends, for all the shame I've brought them," Yaron, 67, told U.S. District Court Judge George B. Daniels in a soft, accented voice before sentencing.
But federal prosecutors noted that Yaron had been treated "leniently" after two prior convictions and Daniels sentenced him to five years in prison plus $500,000 in fines for his role in an eight-year, $2.3 million kickback scheme to get lucrative asbestos-removal contracts at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Daniels, noting that Yaron had dual citizenship in Israel, would not allow him to remain out on bond through the appeal process. He ordered Yaron to turn himself over to federal authorities in October.
"I have no idea what Mr. Yaron has on his mind," Daniels said of Yaron's potential as a flight risk.
In March, the Daily News detailed the ups and downs in Yaron's eclectic background. He amassed college degrees from the University of Miami, the University of Massachusetts and Oxford, where he wrote his doctoral thesis on "ionization and chemiluminescence in gases." He's donated millions to charities, his alma mater and a dilapidated synagogue he helped revive on Lombard Street.
And yet Yaron was also convicted of dumping toxic chemicals in the 1980s and later for defrauding insurance companies.
Starting in 1990, when he was released from federal prison, Yaron began buying and rehabilitating numerous properties in Old City. He also became a philanthropist and political donor, rubbing shoulders with former Gov. Ed Rendell and other elected officials.
"I liked his drive, his optimism. He had the ability to find money, he had the willingness to take risks, and he believed Philadelphia could be a great city again," Rendell said about Yaron in March.
Rendell added at the time that he wouldn't be surprised if Yaron came out on top again, even after jail. On Tuesday, Yaron's attorney said his client's corporations, Cambridge Environmental & Construction Corp. and Oxford Construction & Development Corp., are basically defunct because of the investigation. Both corporations were convicted in the trial earlier this year and ordered to pay a $1 million fine each.
"There's nothing for them to do. They don't exist except in name," attorney Nathan Lewin said.
Moshe Buchnik, an associate of Yaron's who owns an asbestos-removal company and Café Olé in Old City, was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the conspiracy.
Contact Jason Nark at 215-854-5916, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JasonNark.