By BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
CONCORD — The mastermind of a scheme that defrauded investors out of millions of dollars has lost his bid to appeal his conviction.
On Oct. 18, Scott Farah, 58, formerly of Meredith, filed a motion asking a judge to "reset" the 15-year sentence handed down against him in January 2011, an action that would allow him to file a direct appeal of his conviction.
Farah who is serving his sentence at a federal prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania, claims in his latest court filing that his action is not a "collateral attack" on the sentence or his guilty plea, but rather is a request to correct a "manifest injustice" by allowing him the statutory right to appeal that was lost to him as a result of ineffective assistance of
counsel. He is now scheduled to be released on Feb. 12, 2024.
Judge Paul J. Barbadoro denied Farah's request on Oct. 27.
His efforts to overturn his sentence was based on a claim of ineffective lawyering, alleging that his attorney, Michael Ramsdell, failed to tell him about his right to appeal his conviction or to file one on his behalf. Farrah filed the motion to vacate criminal judgment and reimpose sentence as an end play to launch an appeal, as the deadline has since expired.
In in his motion, Farah claimed that Ramsdell assured him that he would not receive a sentence of longer than 109 months. When the court exceeded the sentence by nearly six years, Farah claims Ramsdell had a duty to tell him about the appellate remedies available to him.
He also claims he entered his guilty plea on Ramsdell's advice based on his counsel that the government would not use the information he provided against him. Farah argues the very information he gave investigators was the basis for his indictment and subsequent conviction.
Farah wrote that he never explicitly agreed to the facts proposed by the government, "as he never intended to convict himself with his own lips."
He claims that when he met with government officials he was in the midst of a nervous breakdown, was being medicated by a doctor, altering his decision-making capabilities. He argues his latest motion does not "collaterally attack" his conviction but rather makes a claim that error was responsible for him losing his right to appeal.
As part of his motion, Farah submitted a letter from a physician detailing that on Nov. 10, 2009, he was prescribed Sertraline, an antidepressant, and Diazepam, an anti-anxiety medication.
Farah's brother Daniel, who lives in Oklahoma, also signed an affidavit detailing that he attended his brother's sentencing and that prior to entering the courtroom he met with Scott and Ramsdell in a conference room to discuss the proceedings.
Daniel Farah said Ramsdell never discussed any matter involving his brother's appellate rights. During the sentencing hearing, the judge advised Scott Farah to confer with is lawyer if he wished to appeal.
According to Daniel Farah, his brother was immediately taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals and never had the chance to speak with Ramsdell again. He wrote that his brother had no knowledge of how to appeal his sentencing, what issues to raise or even if it was possible to file one.
Scott Farah claims he did not give up his right to appeal that his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary. He argued that Ramsdell had a duty to consult with him based on the disparity in the sentences returned against him compared to co-defendant Donald Dodge.
While the government has proposed a 121-month sentence for Dodge under the terms of a plea agreement, he actually received 78 months.
In November 2009, just two months after the New Hampshire State Banking Department completed an audit of Financial Resources and gave it an A+ rating, Farah wrote that he contacted his attorney, Mike Gould, concerning the operation of the company.
Gould, who would ultimately surrender his law license for his involvement with Financial Resources, referred Farah to Ramsdell who formerly worked as an assistant attorney general. According to Farah, he met with Ramsdell that same day. That night, Farah asserts that he "suffered a nervous breakdown as he realized he'd lost everything he'd worked his whole life for and that his financial mortgage crisis had put his company in a very tenuous position."
His wife and youngest son were so concerned about his mental health that they took a shotgun out of their Hatch Corner Road home, fearful he would commit suicide, he wrote in court filings.
He then decided to drive to North Carolina to stay with his brother Daniel, who he said is a trained pastoral counselor. Farah's oldest son flew home from college the following day to chauffeur his father as the family had decided Scott was "mentally incapable" of driving himself, according to the court motion.
Farah stayed in North Carolina under a doctor's care and was prescribed an anti-depressant and an anti-anxiety medication in the days before he was indicted for mail and wire fraud.
On Nov. 10, acting under the advice of Ramsdell, Farah said, he instructed his father to hand over the keys to the company's headquarters at 15 Northview Drive in Meredith.
A search warrant for the building the contained all financial records and computer used by the business was never issued, but rather a consent to search form was allegedly signed, according to Farah.
He claims that Ramsdell did nothing to either protect or review the reams of data in the building before turning it over to the government, showing a reckless disregard for Farah's constitutional rights.
Farah maintains that he relied on Ramsdell's advice that he needed to fully cooperate to get a reduced sentence.
"Considering the fact that he was in the middle of a nervous breakdown and heavily medicated, he relied on Mr. Ramsdell's expertise and on the fact that Mr. Ramsdell would be a shield rather than a sword," Farah wrote.
Again relying on Ramsdell's counsel, Farah wrote that he twice met with investigators and confessed that FRM operated as a Ponzi scheme, using lenders' money to pay other lender obligations. He disclosed all the intricate dealings of the operation necessary to convict him and Dodge.
He provided information to support a total loss from 1989 through 2009 of approximately $33,567,110. All of the disclosures were made by Farah without any regard to the Fifth Amendment that protects a person from being compelled to be a witness against himself in a criminal case, based on what Farah claims was the "erroneous and defective advice of his counsel.