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JUDGE SENTENCES THREE FOR FRAUD

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ORLANDO, Fla.-Three men who pleaded guilty to siphoning millions of dollars from the now-insolvent National Heritage Life Insurance Co. have received long prison terms from a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Anne C. Conway earlier this month sentenced Michael D. Blutrich and Lyle K. Pfeffer to 25 years each in prison on fraud and money laundering charges. Mr. Blutrich was a New York-based lawyer who acted as outside counsel to National Heritage and its parent company, while Mr. Pfeffer controlled several companies used in the fraud.

Judge Conway also sentenced Patrick C. Smythe, the insurer's former chief operating officer, to 25 years, though the sentence was reduced to 21 years for Mr. Smythe's cooperation in other cases stemming from the insurer's 1994 collapse.

Mr. Smythe's sentence could be reduced further based on his assistance in a criminal case against nine others accused of helping to loot the insurer. Trial of the nine other defendants is set for next February.

Messrs. Blutrich and Pfeffer, meanwhile, are also expected to have their sentences reduced significantly for their testimony in the National Heritage case and in the upcoming racketeering trial of John A. Gotti, son of jailed Gambino crime family boss John J. Gotti.

Mr. Blutrich was an owner of Scores, a topless nightclub in Manhattan from which John A. Gotti is accused of extorting money.

Messrs. Blutrich and Pfeffer are in the federal witness protection program.