Former Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall was sentenced Thursday to 70 months in prison and ordered to pay $5 million in restitution for his admitted role in a scheme to bilk banks, a securities firm and the NHL team of more than $236 million.
In passing sentence, U.S. District Judge Richard Paez praised McNall, saying: "You have quite a history here in L.A. . . . as I said earlier today, you are a man of many talents, but this was a quite serious matter that took place over a long period of time involving a lot of money, a lot of banks."
McNall, whose demeanor remained as emotional outside court as he was when sentence was passed, held a news conference outside the courtroom and said: "I don't think you can ever be totally pleased with this type of situation. Under the circumstances, it's in the range of what I expected.
"The saddest part of all of this is there are a lot of victims made out of all this," he said.
The sentence marked the last phase of McNall's dramatic fall from owner of the Stanley Cup-contender Kings to bankruptcy.
McNall pleaded guilty more than two years ago to two counts of bank fraud and single counts of conspiracy and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud six banks, one securities company and the Kings. He has been free on bond.
Federal prosecutors had recommended the maximum prison sentence of eight years and restitution of $26.7 million. But Paez reduced the sentence and restitution because of what he termed McNall's "extraordinary acceptance of responsibility" and for McNall's substantial assistance to prosecutors in this and other cases.
Prosecutors refused to divulge the nature of the other cases because many investigations were continuing and some stretched as far away as New York.
Ten other McNall associates have pleaded guilty. None has yet been sentenced. Three others were indicted in October 1995 and are scheduled to go to trial Feb. 4.
In his 1994 guilty plea, McNall admitted that he broke federal banking laws by convincing them that he was worth more than he really was, City News Service reported.
Some of his aides allegedly used false and fraudulent financial statements, tax returns, phony inventory lists and invoices to support loan applications for McNall-run businesses.
The aides diverted loan funds from 10 sham companies to help pay operating costs for McNall Sports and Entertainment Inc. and McNall's personal expenses and to repay loans, according to the government.
The Arcadia High School graduate was the entrepreneur who made unlikely Southern California a pro hockey hotbed.
He bought the Kings from Jerry Buss in 1988, then stoked the region's love for the game by coaxing legend Wayne Gretzky, the National Hockey League's career leader in goals and assists and its biggest star, to play for the Los Angeles franchise.
He sold 72% of the Kings to Joseph Cohen and Jeffrey Sudikoff in May 1994 for $60 million. In 1995, the team was sold to Denver billionaire Philip F. Anschutz and local developer Edward P. Roski.
McNall was forced into bankruptcy in 1994. His Holmby Hills home sold for $4.7 million in May 1995.
As a teenager, McNall bought and sold ancient Greek and Roman coins. He once outbid Aristotle Onassis and former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing for a famed coin.
He built a thriving business and became a millionaire while attending UCLA, and diversified by investing in racehorses and movie production.