By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Federal authorities have sentenced an admitted con man who targeted nuns, priests and others in a so-called advance fee scam with devastating personal results to 18 years in prison.

At the sentencing Thursday, the defense was seeking leniency and blaming clergy sex abuse for the defendant’s conduct.

Federal prosecutor Karen Klotz, however, argued for the long sentence well above federal guidelines, because the ruthless crimes committed by defendant Adriano Sotomayor cost some victims all their savings. One victim committed suicide and another attempted suicide.

Klotz said Sotomayor is a repeat offender and this scheme started with an elderly nun in Puerto Rico who was told to send “fees” to collect on an inheritance.

But in its own pre-trial memo, the defense said the defendant was sexually assaulted by members of the Catholic clergy at age 13 and that resulted in Sotomayor lashing out at his attackers through the proxies of the Catholic clergy and parishioners defrauded in this case.

The defense was seeking a sentence of about six to seven years in prison.

Authorities say Sotomayor carried out the fraud scheme between May 2009 and February 2012. He was indicted in 2011 and went on the run from the FBI shortly thereafter.

He was captured by authorities in Las Vegas in February of 2012 and pleaded guilty to the scam in February 2013.

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