NEW YORK - A Montana man who called himself a private investigator was sentenced to more than two years in prison Tuesday for bilking a dozen U.S. law offices, including a firm once used by Martha Stewart and former AIG chairman Maurice R. Greenberg.
Michael Lair, 46, who claimed he had access to valuable information, pleaded guilty to wire fraud earlier this year.
U.S. District Court Judge John F. Keenan sentenced Lair to 27 months in prison, ordered him to pay $307,103 in restitution and said his computer use will be monitored once he gets out of prison.
"He flimflammed some pretty sophisticated outfits here," Keenan said. "I think it's appropriate that his computer operation be monitored."
Before he was sentenced, Lair briefly apologized to the court and said he hoped to move on with his life as soon as possible.
At his guilty plea, Lair admitted that he wrongfully accepted at least $200,000 from several law firms and companies between 2003 and 2006.
Lair had promised through a business he operated from his Bozeman, Mont., home to deliver information about highly publicized lawsuits, including one involving Greenberg. He later admitted that he knew he could not get the information the companies wanted.
The balding and bespectacled Lair appeared in court in prison blue. He has been held without bail since prosecutors labeled him a flight risk.
Lair was never licensed as a private investigator in Montana, according to a spokeswoman for the Montana Board of Private Security.
Among Lair's victims was the Manhattan firm Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason, Anello & Bohrer.
The Morvillo firm was involved with Lair as it represented Greenberg in a legal dispute with his former company, AIG Inc.
Morvillo also represented Stewart in her criminal case several years ago, although none of Lair's wrongdoing involved information about the home style entrepreneur.