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Court rules ex-Richmond developer's actions while awaiting sentencing warrant 20-year term

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RICHMOND, Virginia — A federal appeals court won't reduce a former Richmond developer's 20-year prison sentence for fraud, identity theft and transfer of a false document.

Billy Gene Jefferson claimed a judge improperly sanctioned him for obstructing justice and failing to accept responsibility, resulting in an unreasonable sentence.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously disagreed Friday and allowed the sentence to stand.

Jefferson was awaiting sentencing for a $12 million tax credit scheme when he began hoarding cash that was supposed to be used to repay his victims. He also used a fake ID to charter a one-way flight to England, although he ultimately decided not to go. The appeals court said a sentencing enhancement was justified because of Jefferson's ongoing fraudulent conduct.

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