This afternoon in Syracuse, New York, after several delays, Martha Ivery–vanity publisher, fee-charging literary agent, and woman of many aliases–was sentenced to 65 months in Federal prison, plus 3 years’ probation. In December 2005, she had pleaded guilty to all counts of a 17-count indictment: 15 counts of mail fraud and acts against the United States as a principal in a conspiracy, one count of improper use of an electronic access device (legalese for “credit-card fraud not involving the mails”), and one count of false sworn testimony in a bankruptcy proceeding.
Martha’s lawyer had argued for probation rather than jail time, pleading serious mental illness, but the prosecution’s psychiatrist, while acknowledging that Martha is one majorly fucked-up lady, did not agree that this prevented her from distinguishing right from wrong. The judge, fortunately, saw it the prosecution’s way.
Martha is required to pay restitution to her victims (or, if they die, their heirs), starting immediately, at the rate of 10% of everything she earns or $100 per month, whichever is greater. Since the total restitution amount is $728,248.10 (representing her “take” from nearly 300 victims), this is really more symbolic than anything else. She must also pay court costs of $1,700, and will be required to get mental health and sustance abuse counseling. If she’s even one day late for her report-to-jail date of January 9, 2007, the three years of probation will be added to her prison time.
This closes a chapter not just for Martha’s victims, but for Writer Beware. We’ve been tracking Martha since 1998, and were instrumental in providing evidence for the FBI investigation that resulted in her indictment. We’re hoping her case will serve as a precedent for the prosecution of other literary scammers in other states (I’m sure y’all can guess who’s #1 on our list).
There’s more: Martha, who apparently has turned to religion, made a pre-sentencing statement, and the judge informed her that he was tired of her shenanigans. Ann was there (having endured the Flight From Hell to make it up to Syracuse), and will be filling in the details when she gets back home.