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Friday, December 21, 2018

DAVID DAMANTE LOOKING FOR A NEW VICTIM...ALREADY?! Just Two Days Before Government Prosecutors Filed Response To David Damante's Appeal Of His 14-Month Probation Revocation Sentence, His “WriteAPrisoner.com” Profile Shows He's Already Looking For A New Victim: “Are YOU That Lady?”

David Damante, who is currently serving a 14-month sentence for violating the terms of his supervised release, has already begun laying the groundwork to his next victim. Even if his pending appeal is denied, Damante is scheduled to be sprung from federal stir next summer.

Damante's WriteAPrisoner.com profile went live December 16, 2018--just two days before government prosecutors responded to his November 28, 2018 appeal of his current sentence.

Here's Damante's silky spiel:

Hi there, I hope you're doing well. 

I'm new to this internet correspondence thing, so bear with me. I recently just got out of a situation and now I'm looking to get to know a lady that can adjust to my alpha personality traits and enjoys being with me for who I am and will not be judgmental, as I have absolutely no time for those ladies that are like that. 

I'm "That Guy", physically fit and toned, 6'4, smart, intellectual, charismatic, sensual, and successful! 

I am looking for that special someone but not wanting to settle. I'm looking for a lady that is health conscious and physically fit, independent, financially stable, and not always relying on me as the sole provider. 

I appreciate when a lady reciprocates. 

Are YOU that lady? 

I have a big heart, I'm easy going, with a very diverse background. I will listen and pay attention to you. I expect my lady to have very good communication skills as do I. 

To me, honesty, ethics, loyalty, and having good values are what I live by and expect from my friends and acquaintances as well as the lady in my life. 

As I mentioned before I am new to the internet scene. I'm here on a probation violation and I will not bore you with the circumstances leading up to my current situation as I'm more interested in YOU! Unless of course, it comes up in conversation. I cannot look back into the past, I must focus on moving forward. If any of my profile is an issue for YOU, I understand. 

However, I believe in being transparent and upfront so this doesn't come back on me 360. 

If you're the type of lady that can see in the grey, I would be most definitely happy to correspond with you and if it is to our liking, find a time for a meet and greet. 

Sincerely, David 


“The record shows that Damante continued in his criminal behavior in an effort to deprive his victims their due restitution, and he did so by repeatedly lying to the probation office and the court, affirmatively and by omission. The district court reasonably concluded that a 14-month sentence was necessary to impress on Damante that he could not continue with his deception by omission, obfuscation, and “get-rich-quick at the expense of others” schemes. Damante’s arguments ignore the record evidence, and in any event, do not show an abuse of discretion.” 

“The district court correctly accounted for the numerous and continuing breaches of the court’s trust and harm to the public. Damante all but admitted that his scheme was to keep restitution out of the hands of the victims he harmed, an especially egregious goal in light of the fact that he had not paid a cent in restitution in nearly a year. This too supports the district court’s focus on protecting the public.” 

In its December 18 response, the government responded to Damante, neatly knocking down his specious claims with something absolutely foreign to this felonious felon: the facts.

Beginning at the beginning...with Damante's federal criminal history:

In February 2011, Damante was indicted on five counts of wire fraud. 

The charges arose from Damante’s ownership of two companies, Sinymante Enterprises and Changing the Planet, which he used to defraud investors out of millions of dollars. 

To induce investors to part with their money, Damante falsely represented that he “facilitated and funded various investment projects and motion picture deals.”. Using Sinymante Enterprises, Damante solicited $1 million dollars under the guise that the money would be used to finance a “gold mine deal.” 

In reality, the money was used to finance Damante’s lavish lifestyle and his purchase of a Ferrari and Mercedes Benz for his personal use. Then, promising a high rate of interest return in “private placements” of “medium term notes,” Damante used Changing the Planet to induce investors into giving him $2 million dollars. 

Instead of delivering on his promises, Damante used the money to buy cars and a boat, gave money to his wife and mother, and withdrew cash for himself. Exploiting unwitting investors, Damante enriched himself to the tune of millions. 

Pretrial Release Violations 

At his initial appearance in March 2011, the district court released Damante pending trial on several conditions, which the court modified over time. 

Damante was not permitted to enter into any financial applications exceeding $1,500 without prior approval from the court. By July 2012, Damante sustained two violations while on pretrial release. The magistrate judge found that Damante had attempted to enter into a $1,650,000 loan transaction without notifying Pretrial Services or the court. 

The magistrate judge also found probable cause that Damante had committed a new federal crime – a violation 18 U.S.C. § 2232(a) and (b). 

Specifically, the magistrate judge found that Damante had obtained a $125,000 loan, illegally “secured by collateral liens on the 2006 Ferrari F430 F1 automobile, the 2008 Mercedes Benz SL550 and the 2008 Supra Sunsport boat and 2008 Boatmate trailer” that the government had seized and listed in the forfeiture allegations of the criminal indictment. 

Accordingly, the court revoked Damante’s pretrial release and ordered him detained pending trial. 

Plea and Sentencing 

In November 2013, Damante pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud charged in a second superseding indictment. In February 2014, the district court sentenced Damante to 41 months’ incarceration with 36 months of supervised release to follow. 

David Damante
In January 2015, Damante was released to the residential re-entry center (“halfway house”) to serve the final portion of his BOP custodial sentence. While at the halfway house, Damante reported to his probation officer that he was working at “Arts Montage.” In reality, Damante was “spending his days sunbathing.” 

The probation office also received documentation that Damante and his business partner “were attempting to start a vitamin and supplement business,” which “was developed to try and defraud businesses.” 

During this same time, Damante attempted to “purchase a Lamborghini” under a business name. The probation officer also learned that Damante had used false names on social media and had been communicating with a “convicted felon.” 

These violations resulted in Damante being returned to BOP custody on June 1, 2015. 

After serving the remainder of his custodial sentence, Damante began his supervised release term on June 18, 2015. 

April 2016, the probation officer filed a petition and addendum to revoke Damante’s supervision. 

Of the 30 allegations, Damante admitted 11 violations; several admissions follow.

 • He signed a promissory note for a $5,000. 

 • He submitted a rental property application for a property in Arizona in the false name Robert Damante.

• He obtained an Arizona driver’s license, and registered a car in the false name of Robert David Damante. 

• He submitted a rental property application in the false name Robert Damante.

• He possessed multiple casino players’ cards in the false name Robert Damante.

• He failed to maintain stable employment since his release from custody.

• He had contact with a convicted felon regarding a “$1.5m hard money loan.”

• He falsely represented himself as a millionaire with a bachelor’s degree on a dating website.

• He obtained an IRS employer identification number without the consent of his supervising probation officer.  

Although the government requested a 12-month sentence, the district court sentenced Damante to 10 months’ confinement with 24 months of supervision to follow. 

The district court explained that Damante’s pretrial release violations, revocation hearings, and lengthy custodial sentence did not seem to impress on Damante the need to abide by conditions. Accordingly, the court imposed an above-guidelines sentence to “see if that [would] adequately deter” Damante. 

Damante understood that “if he [did not] walk this line, he [would] not be shown any leniency in the future,” that he would “be going to prison for a substantial period of time,” and that there would “be even more severe consequences.” 

Damante served the sentence and began his new supervised release term in February 2017. 

Until he fucked up...again!

Second Revocation of Supervision 

By January 2018, the probation officer filed another petition and addendum to revoke Damante’s supervision. 

Of the 14 allegations, Damante admitted eight. Damante admitted that, beginning one month after his release: 

• He traveled to North Carolina and Florida without obtaining the permission of his probation officer. 

• He failed to pay any restitution since March 2017. 

• He submitted false statements about his net worth and cash flow by failing to disclose two checks he cashed in the amounts of $23,000 and $28,000. 

• He submitted false statements about his net worth and cash flow by failing to disclose his work with and interest in two New Mexico-based LLCs: Sinuessa Fine Art, LLC, and Sinuessa Precious Metals, LLC. 

• He traveled to Arizona without obtaining the permission of his probation officer. 

• He submitted false statements about his net worth and cash flow by failing to disclose substantial ownership interests in two works of art. 
• He failed to disclose his employment with Sinuessa Fine Art, LLC. 

• He executed numerous financial agreements and incurred substantial debt related to a work of art, “Helicopter Cityscape.” These Grade C violations again resulted in an advisory sentencing range of 3-9 months. 

Damate and fake Basquiat
Over the course of two hearings, Damante attempted to explain his actions. 

At the first hearing, Damante insisted that all of his violations arose because a man named Joe Purcell had been threatening, extorting, and blackmailing him with regard to the two works of art purported to be painted by the late Jean-Michel Basquiat (“Helicopter Cityscape” and “Crack Apple Nights”) valued at $2 million and $18 million, respectively. (A complete bullshit claim, detailed extensively here on this blog.)

Damante told the court he had proof in the form of “500 text messages” on one phone, and “20 voice recordings,” and “2,000 text messages” on another phone. 

The court expressed skepticism, but offered Damante a continuance to obtain and provide the proof he insisted that he had. 

At the continued hearing, instead of providing the thousands of text messages he had promised, Damante offered three text messages that did not provide proof of the threats, extortion, or blackmail he claimed. 

Damante offered a single call where Purcell was berating him, but as defense counsel admitted, that call included no threats or blackmail. 

Damante also provided sworn testimony from an attorney, Scott Cantor, regarding the business relationships and interests in the two works of art. 

Cantor explained that Damante’s 50 percent interest in “Helicopter Cityscape” was ultimately resolved by way of contract over the course of multiple transactions with different individuals, including a convicted felon. (The details surrounding Damante's interaction and the convicted felon, Lumsden W. Quan, were detailed extensively on this blog, including this post.)

According to Cantor, Damante had falsely represented to him that he obtained the “Helicopter Cityscape” work “from his late father.” 

According to Cantor, Damante made this misrepresentation “to insulate the artwork from the restitution in his pending case – in this case.” 

This was notable because Damante had not paid restitution in nearly a year. 

Cantor further explained he believed Damante obtained a half interest in “Crack Apple Nights.” Cantor also believed that Purcell had partnership agreements and power of attorney over Damante’s interest due to Damante’s incarceration on the revocation petition. 

Because Damante failed to provide the corroboration he promised, and because of Cantor’s testimony, the government and probation requested a sentence of 24 months. 

The district court noted at the outset that the available supervised release term of 36 months was reduced by the prior 10-month sentence imposed during the first revocation (i.e., to 26-months), and would be further reduced by any term of incarceration imposed during the hearing. 

The court then reviewed the allegations Damante admitted and disregarded the “so-called white noise” about the convoluted history regarding ownership interests of the two paintings.  (Note: that so-called white noise, including the players involved, is a multi-tentacled art fraud scheme, which was extensively detailed on this blog.) 

Where there's smoke, there's David Damante (above with fake Basquiat)
Although the court expressly did not consider the “white noise,” it also recognized “a lot of this white noise may not be white,” but rather that it could be “realistic noise,” because “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” 

The court considered all of the factors in 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e), and the factors incorporated from 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), and gave particular emphasis and meaningful consideration to “the need to protect the public from further crimes and to provide adequate deterrence.” The court first noted Damante’s unauthorized travel, mentioning that Damante “waited until the day before” the scheduled travel to ask for permission, and that Damante knew or should have known better. 

The court also considered Damante’s violations on pretrial release, violations at the halfway house while in BOP custody, violations during the first term of supervised release, and that Damante had been “given several chances.” The court expressed frustration that it had sentenced Damante to “10 months last time and the nonsense continue[d].” In fact, the court expressly stated, “10 months didn’t work last time,” because Damante was “still misbehaving.” 

The court considered that the violations went “beyond just the travel” and included “significant failures” regarding “funds that were going round and round.” Notwithstanding the lack of promised corroboration, the court credited Damante’s fear of Purcell in part. 

But, the court observed that numerous transactions did not involve Purcell at all, and did not involve “threats of extortion or violence of anything like that, or that predate those things.” For that reason, the court told Damante that it was “troubled by the story that was spun” during the first hearing because it was “different” from what the court heard during the second hearing. 

While Damante corroborated a few statements, the court said it did not buy the story “a hundred percent.” 

After explicitly considering all of the evidence and the relevant factors, the court placed on the record its explanation justifying the sentence, and varied upward five months sentencing Damante to 14 months’ confinement with 12 months of supervision to follow. 

As we await a decision on Damante's case from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, keep in mind he's been down this road again and again--and promised to do bettter...back in 2016.

More on this story after Christmas, especially the inside story of what the government refers to as “white noise”, which is in reality a wide-ranging fraud scheme that includes a prominent Los Angeles attorney who's reportedly bankrolled the authentication of a group of 21 Basquiat paintings.

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