NEW YORK — Philanthropist Alberto Vilar is begging a New York court for mercy before his sentencing for conspiracy fraud, saying he's too sick for prison.
The investment adviser could face 22 years in prison on Feb. 5. A judge in 2008 ordered him imprisoned to await sentencing.
In a letter to the judge, the 69-year-old Vilar says he's "not in good health" and asks to be freed.
Vilar says he now realizes: "I am to blame for my fall."
Vilar was once a donor to cultural institutions worldwide, including opera houses. The Metropolitan Opera's Grand Tier was once called the Vilar Grand Tier.
Forbes magazine said he was worth $950 million before technology stocks collapsed in 2000.
He was convicted of bilking $40 million from investors in his San Francisco-based company, Amerindo Investment Advisors Inc.
(This version CORRECTS that Vilar asked to be freed, not remain free.)