Florida man sentenced to 30 months for stealing sports camp tuition to pay for vacations, gambling

Jan 30, 2024, 5:38 PM

BOSTON (AP) — A Florida man convicted of stealing tuition in 2019 from hundreds of families who planned to send their children to sports camps and spending the money on plastic surgery, vacations and gambling was sentenced Tuesday to two and a half years in prison.

Mehdi Belhassan, 53, of Tampa, was found guilty on two counts of wire fraud in October 2023. He was also sentenced Tuesday to two years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $575,427 and forfeiture of $443,346.

Beginning in the fall of 2018, Belhassan falsely claimed that he would operate his annual MB Sports Camps at a Boston-area college, prosecutors said. Despite the fact that the city told Belhassan he could not have his camp anywhere in Boston because he lacked the appropriate permits, he continued to promote it and collect funds from more than 300 families across the U.S., investigators said.

Belhassan also defrauded a financing company to obtain operating funds for his nonexistent camp using a fraudulent contract with a college that contained the forged signature of an administrator, prosecutors said.

He used the funds to fly to Las Vegas, where he gambled and spent the money on entertainment and hotels, prosecutors said.

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Florida man sentenced to 30 months for stealing sports camp tuition to pay for vacations, gambling